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Two-Headed Porpoise Found, First Ever Of Its Kind

15 June 2017

The first rare case of two-headed porpoise has been documented in the online journal of Natural History Museum Rotterdam last month, after the Dutch fishermen from the North Sea by coincidence captured the freaky creature in a beamtrawler net.

"There are only nine cases known until now" of conjoined twins among cetaceans, said Kompanje, who has studied dolphins, whales and porpoises for 20 years. And among the cetaceans generally, it is only the tenth case of such an anomaly.

First of all, scientists were able to definitively determine that the porpoise died shortly after birth by identifying a visible umbilical opening on its underside.

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Only one past case of a harbor porpoise bearing twins has ever been reported. Garbage, often. Porpoises, sometimes, for the shores of the Netherlands are teeming with hundreds of thousands of them.

"Even normal twinning is extremely rare in cetaceans", wrote researchers, citing that only 0.5 per cent of all known pregnant cetaceans are estimated to have a carried a twin pregnancy.

The discovery of the two-headed dolphin in Turkey became only the fifth known case of conjoined twins in the dolphin family, according to the National Geographic.

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Though scientists were not able to physically examine the porpoise, they were able to garnish some details from the photos taken by the commercial fishermen. The team believes the twins did not survive long after they were born, since their dorsal fin was not yet erected.

Upon their return to port, they alerted local authorities and research groups, who were very intrigued by the find, but were disappointed at the lack of a physical specimen. And in that vast sea, there is no hope of finding the creature again. Others that have been discovered were undeveloped fetuses - such as one found near Japan in 1970 in a dolphin's womb - or have started to decompose, such as a dolphin with two beaks found in 2001.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature states that the incidental catch is the biggest threat facing porpoises. But even with no physical evidence, Kompanje made the best of the situation, co-authoring a paper with another marine researcher. While the conjoined twins in mammals may b formed by two separate embryos fusing together or a zygote partially splitting, the exact reason behind the formation of conjoined twins is still an enigma.

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Two-Headed Porpoise Found, First Ever Of Its Kind