In a somewhat usual turn of events, an animal refuge in the US is now home for a two-headed diamondback terrapin turtle. While the prognosis is often bleak for animal affected by bicephaly, the duo remain healthy and kicking with six shared legs and a common shell more than two weeks after hatching.
The two heads operate independently and the animal welfare centre reports that they are defying all odd as they "are eating, swimming, and gaining weight each day". Much like conjoined human twins, they appear to be working navigate their environment and x-rays indicate that that they have two spines that fuse further down the body. The rare anomaly that can occur from both genetic and environmental factors that influence an embryo during development.
"We have been observing them moving and swimming showing they each have control of three legs. A barium study revealed they each have separate gastrointestinal (GI) tracts. The right side appears to be slightly more developed but they are eating and digesting food. A supervised deep water swim test showed that they can coordinate swimming so that they can come to the surface to breathe when needed," read a Facebook update shared by the Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center in Massachusetts.
The twins had hatched from a protected nesting site in Barnstable that had reportedly been determined to be a hazardous location by researchers. Normally turtle from such nests are sent to care centres and monitored before being released.
The turtles have caused quite the stir online, with many social media users hoping that they beat the odds and have a long and healthy life. "I hope they live a long life with care maybe remain under care of the wildlife center. Beautiful and precious," wrote one Facebook user.
"Will they ever be able to be separated?" wondered another.
While reports suggest that the duo have been nicknamed Mary-Kate and Ashley after the Olsen twins, netizens had several suggestions of their own. "They should be called Bert and Ernie (or Berta and Ernestine). Or Laverne and Shirley or Bonnie and Clyde" opined two users. Another bemoaned the fact that they had not been named 'Zak and Wheezie' - the conjoined twin dragons from the Dragon Tales animated children's series.