In the 21st century, people generally assume that we have discovered most of what is there to be seen on this beautiful Earth. The deepest oceans have been explored, the highest mountains climbed – is there anything humans haven’t seen yet? One man in Turkey found out that Nature will always throw up surprises when we least expect it and will continue to amaze us for all time.
Tugrul Metin, a 39-year-old gym teacher, discovered the body of a two-headed dolphin washed up on the beach where he was taking a stroll.
The man was reported to have been feeling shocked as he went to investigate the phenomenon further. Understandably, he thought his eyes were playing tricks on him and he was disbelieving at first. Forget seen, Metin said he hadn’t even heard about a two-headed dolphin earlier in his life and didn’t even know the possibility of one existing. He called the local authorities, and the police then took away the body for further study.
The district of Izmir, on Turkey’s west coast, was astounded at the event. The holidaymaker who found the corpse was extensively interviewed on more details about the animal. He described the scene as best he could.
What exactly was found
The specimen was of a one year old calf. The young age is typical of such an animal, with most not surviving the first few months. The specimen also had two heads, but a conjoined tail. Reports from the scene said one of the heads and the eyes wasn’t formed correctly, and one of the blowholes was partially closed.
The dolphin calf was 1m in length, and cause of death may have been any of the deformities that it was born with. Most animals with birth defects die due to complications soon after they are born. A year of living is a relatively long time. Many humans who were born with two heads died within a few days of being born. Authorities are slated to conduct further investigation.
Is this usual?
Scientifically, this is phenomenon is not entirely unique. There have been several instances of animals with two heads that have appeared over the years. Called polycephaly this phenomenon has been reported to have occurred in several farm animals, many domestic animals and various reptiles. The phenomenon even occurs in humans!
Cats, particularly, have had extensive reports of being polycephalic. Their popularity as domestic animals probably contributes to this. Other animals and reptiles, which have been reported to have been born with two heads, are dogs, calves, piglets, snakes, turtles and crocodiles. Several museums around the world have the preserved bodies of two-headed animals on display.
How does it work?
Each head has its own brain. The two brains share control over the internal organs, or may also have two sets of them as well. Sometimes, the coordination of the limbs may be a little fuzzy. Other times, everything may work fine. However, in most cases, the specimens do not last long enough to make any proper assessment. When one of them dies due to a complication, that particular reason might be documented as a problem but nothing more.
Is this a modern phenomenon?
Many people might be blaming the influx of new chemicals into the environment for this phenomena. This is not entirely untrue. In cases of radiation poisoning, or people exposed to nuclear fallout, there have been extensive reports of mutations and physically deformed progeny being born. This is not the case with every person or animal born with genetic mutations. Most specimens born with two heads have congenital cephalic disorders. They are the result of the fusion of monozygotic twin embryos. This is very similar to the process that produces conjoined twins in human beings.
Besides this, there are several historical references throughout history that prove that this is not a modern phenomenon. It has been recorded as far back as ancient Mesopotamia, Musahhu is a seven-headed serpent in its mythology. Greek mythology is specially filled with multi-headed creatures. From Cerberus to the Hydra, to lesser-known ones like Ladon, Chimera, Orthrus and Janus, the Greek mythos is filled with this phenomenon. Indian deities have been portrayed as multi-limbed as well, as have the Taoist goddess Nezha.