In recent years, there have been many cases of birth of creatures with two heads. People continue wondering for what reasons the nature surprises them so much. Is the Russian saying “One head is good, but two heads are better” true? In fact having two heads gives no advantages. Nevertheless, some risky scholars consider the opportunity of artificial growing people having two, three or more heads.
Do you remember the stories in the press about the birth of creatures with two heads? For instance, in the USA a kitten with two heads was born – it had two mouths, two noses and two four eyes. The vets assured that little Image (the kitten’s name) had good chances to survive. However, it lived for only 4 days. There was a report that a child with two faces has been born in a Nigerian hospital recently. According to the first reports, the child is in good health. This information cannot be trusted much, because the two-headed kitten first was announced to be in a good health, and then it died…
Having two heads is a different kind of phenomenon than having two faces. Two heads mean two separate brains. There were reports about piglet Rudi having two heads, who was born in 1998 in Iowa, USA and became a sort of celebrity. Earlier, the birth of a similar piglet was registered in Wiskonsin, USA, but the piglet was stolen. A 1000 reward was announced for the piglet return, however it was not found. Unfortunately, there is no information about the final of the story.
Similar animals can be seen among reptiles and amphibians – tortoises, snakes, lizards, crocodiles. There are websites for the images of animals having abnormalities (for example, www.yoe.orgDeviatedReptiles). There one can see reptiles with a variety of abnormalities: they can be albinos, have two heads or two tails.
In 2002 researcher Andrew Khund gathered all the information available about two-headed creatures. There are different species on his list: cattle, pigs, cats, dogs, fishes, snakes and other animals. The papers about two-headed creatures are quite boring. The name of the simplest paper is “History and Medical Description of Two-Headed Girl”. Vets-pathologists wrote another paper: “Abnormalities of Newborn Two-Headed Calf Development, Including Description of Its Main Blood Vessels and Complicated Heart Structure”. Another paper is about the cow having a two-headed calf inside. Before the calving the cow hardly avoided having volvulus.
Such abnormalities came under scholars’ scrutiny long time ago. In 1929 a paper on the anatomy of the two-headed kitten was written. Ichthyologists published paper “Ten Two-Headed Trout in Length from 32 Millimeters to the Record Size of 203 Millimeters” in 1938. A year later the US Academy of Science published paper “Some Aspects of Anatomy of Two-Headed Tortoise”.
This phenomenon is spread among tortoises more than among other living creatures, such as snakes and fish, and National Parks employees are used to this. The two-headed creatures can be considered as twins not separated from each other. Two-headed tortoise Emily was lucky to be placed in the scientific museum– it would not survive in the natural environment. It had weight of 4 kilograms and lived in the state of Minessota for about 4 years. However, the tortoise’s heads caused its death. One head became stuck under its test and died. A day later another head died because of intoxication.
X-rays examination and dissection revealed that in addition to having two heads, Emily had two biological systems –two hearts and the same for other organs. Two spinal columns were connected in the back of the body, therefore the left head brain operated the left fore-leg and the right head brain operated the right fore leg. The two heads operated the back legs. Besides, the tortoise had two ventricles, two sets of thick intestines, but the common set of thin intestines.
There was a case of the birth of a three-headed tortoise in 1999 in Taiwan. Villager Lin Chi-fa discovered this unusual creature in the pond. Local villagers consider such a wonder to be God’s sign, and the tortoise was announced sacred to taken to the temple for blessing. The people noticed soon that the tortoise has a problem of lack of space orientation –its three heads could not come to the conclusion which direction they should follow. For this reason, the three-headed creature moved in zigzags, and this made its moving next to impossible. Its third head was developed less than the other two.
Scientists say that the additional head of two-headed creatures can be different from the “main head” – it is smaller in size or more colorless. However, generally two heads grow from the same place and they look alike. Meanwhile, there were cases when the second head grew on the unusual body spot (for instance, where the tail is supposed to be), but they were seldom cases of Siam twins.
It was discovered the second head reduces the creature’s chances to survive in comparison with the “standard” animals of its species. The reason is its retarded or wrong reaction to a danger. If one head sees the danger and another one don’t, their two brains start “arguing” which decision to take while the animal got caught with a predator who can have two heads as well as the one fro dinner.
In favorable conditions (of National Park or special terrarium) a two-headed animal can live pretty long, especially a reptile. In the USA a two-headed snake (of Californian Queen snake species) was caught small on the toilet and after that could live for 17 years in Arizona. Under the natural conditions a predator could kill it. The two heads could kill each other when taking away a catch another head got. Such a confrontation could last several hours or the all day long. The heads could become aggressive and even attempt swallowing each other. The terrarium staff had to prevent the snake from choking if its both heads swallow the food to the gullet: food such as a mouse should be given to the one head first and a moment later to another head. If the both mouths are busy chewing, they are not going to attack each other, although this can happen still.
Good care does not guarantee that the abnormal creature will survive. For instance, in 2001 a strange two-headed crocodile was born in crocodile farm Samut Prakarn near Bangkok. The two heads were given names Chang and Ang – after famous twin-brothers who were born in 1811 in Siam (old name for Thailand). Then they married, both had 22 children and died at the age of 63. The two-headed crocodile did not live long like they, it died after a week. Samut Prakarn is the one of the biggest crocodile farms in he world and has about 60 thousand of these predators, but in this case the farm employees skills in breeding crocodiles were of no use. Specialists in genetics say the creatures like the two-headed crocodile can be born artificially.
However, this crocodile was born naturally and was unable to survive. One can guess that such reptiles have more than one anomaly and it is hard to survive having them. In May 1998 on Harry Slife’s farm a two-headed heifer was born. It was named Reflection. The creature had many things to puzzle the observer – it had Caesarian birth, to feed it was difficult and its owner could not understand whether the creature had one brain or two. The owner did not have to think long over these matters: soon the heifer had lungs’ inflammation and died. The additional head weakened the creature’s immune system.
Sometimes two-headed creatures have no chance to come into being. As the two-headed elk’s cub who was discovered by a hunter from Tanan, Alaska. The man went to get some meat for the funeral banquet and shot the female elk. When dissecting the elk carcass, the hunter saw a calf with two heads. It happened on February 3, 2002. Local people were concerned and even scared with this case seeing a bad sign in it, and scientists were puzzled. The cause of this pathology could be the secret powerful radar installation near the US Air base in that area.
Two-headed dog is also a wonder. However, it causes mostly positive emotions: it is nice to see the dog trying to lick is master with its two tongues! Dreamers say the scientists will be able to give the birth to a creature with a hundred or a thousand heads with the help of genetic engineering.
The majority of people consider this idea a nonsense – even one head can cause enough problems! Nevertheless, history has demonstrated a man is persistent to implement the ideas he is anxious about. The man starts experimenting on insects and animals, and then it comes to human beings.
They say such an idea can be realized by specialists in genetics pretty soon – it will take 5 or 10 years, 30 years maximum. Heads can be planted on every body spot if one remembers the experiment when the poor mouse had additional ear planted on its back and the fly had eyes all over, even on its legs and wings. One should be ready for seeing any wonders.
All of a sudden, people having several heads, hands or even wings can appear. The mistakes of the nature which surprise us today will look primitive in comparison with the monster the science will invent.
Probably this tendency should not be stopped and we should consider as a natural course of events.
Svetlana Anina, NGN newspaper