Mystery Wonders
Two Headed Snake

When a human embryo begins to split but the process stops before completion, two genetically identical babies might be born with parts of their bodies fused together -- conjoined twins. This occurs only very rarely, and 75 percent of conjoined twins are either stillborn or die within a day of birth. Among snakes, the same process typically manifests itself not as two conjoined bodies, but as two heads sharing a single body. And when those heads don't see eye-to-eye on matters of mutual interest, they sometimes fight each other to the death. In a paper published in the "Bulletin of the Maryland Herpetological Society" in June 2007, Harvard herpetologist Van Wallach analysed 950 reported cases of snakes with two heads, a condition known as axial bifurcation or dicephalism. Throughout the ages, many variations on reptiles with two heads have been reported, Wallach wrote. In most cases, both heads have their own esophagus and trachea, and often their own heart and set of lungs, but snakes with one head and two jaws, as well as those with two heads and one jaw, have also been reported. Wallach also cites the case of a hermaphrodite two-headed snake, half male and half female, but calls this report "incredible" and unverifiable, since the specimen was lost. Herpetologists believe that although two-headed snakes wouldn't last long in the wild, they can thrive in captivity -- if they don't kill each other first. In September 2012, two South Carolina kids hit the show-and-tell jackpot by finding a small snake with one head at either end of its body, each with two eyes, a mouth and a tongue. Their mother observed that the two heads couldn't seem to agree on what the body should do. The late Thelma and Louise, a two-headed corn snake about 3 1/2 feet long, was a perennial favorite at the San Diego Zoo, her -- or their -- 15 single-headed offspring furnishing persuasive evidence that in snakes, dicephalism is an accidental condition rather than a genetic mutation. University of Tennessee herpetologist Gordon Burghardt says that the amount of time two-headed snakes spend fighting over which head gets to swallow the prey would make them highly vulnerable to predators in the wild. Even in captivity, where both heads are well fed, they're often at each other's throats. According to Van Wallach, some heads learn how to get along with each other, some manage to cooperate partially, others never figure out that what goes into their stomach nourishes them both. When one head attacks and kills the other and subsequently dies as a result, Wallach classifies it as a homicide-suicide and has documented many cases. According to Wallach, the first reliable written report of a two-headed snake was documented in 350 B.C. by Aristotle, an ancient Greek better known for his writings on philosophy. Many famous people have owned dicephalic snakes, among them King Louis XVI of France, a Japanese emperor, Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, Thomas Jefferson and talk-show host Ellen De Generes. The "Handbook of Inca Mythology" tells us that the two-headed rainbow-hued serpent god Amaru Tupa played an important role in Inca belief. In homage to Amaru, rulers used to confine large anacondas and boa constrictors together with prisoners of war and criminals. Three days later, if any man was still alive, he was free to go.


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Do your nightmares ever include two-headed monsters? Storybook dragons and serpents may have a basis in reality. A farmer in Spain captured a two-headed snake last month, and scientists are eager to study it. "Two-headed snakes are rare, but they shouldn't be looked at as freaks," said Gordon Burghardt, a herpetologist at the University of Tennessee. Herpetologists study reptiles like turtles, snakes and lizards. Each two-headed animal is highly individual, and has its own personality and reasons for doing things the same as any other creature, he said. The snake in Spain is lucky it was captured; there is no way it could survive on its own in the wild. Just imagine all the problems you would have if you had two heads. It would be as if you had to get one of your brothers or sisters to agree with every decision you made—what to wear, what to eat, when to eat, what to watch on television, what site to visit on the Internet—all the time, every time. That's how it is for a snake with two heads. First the two heads have to decide they're both hungry at the same time, and then they have to agree to pursue the same prey. Then they might fight over which head gets to swallow the prey. To make it even more complicated, since snakes operate a good deal by smell, if one head catches the scent of prey on the other's head, it will attack and try to swallow its second head. "They also have a great deal of difficulty deciding which direction to go, and if they had to respond to an attack quickly they would just not be capable of it," said Burghardt. Two-headed snakes raised in captivity can do quite well though. Burghardt had a two-headed black rat snake that lived to be almost 20 years old. Arizona State University was home to a two-headed king snake that was found in the desert as a baby. The snake lived for close to 17 years at the university. Thelma and Louise, a two-headed corn snake that lived at the San Diego Zoo until its death, had 15 normal babies. Snakes born with two heads happen the same way Siamese twins are born to humans. A developing embryo begins to split into identical twins but then stops part way, leaving the twins joined. The point at which the embryo stops separating varies, and just as Siamese twins can be joined at the head, breast, or hip, the same is true for snakes. The king snake at ASU had two heads supported by separate necks, and they shared a stomach. The two-headed black rat snake that lived for close to 20 years at Burghardt's lab each had a complete throat and stomach. The ladder snake in Spain has two completely separated heads that join the body at about neck level. The two heads on Thelma and Louise were quite close together. "If the two heads are very close together it's going to be much more difficult for them; with more separation, they can act a little more independently," Burghardt said. The two-headed snake found in Spain is a non-venomous ladder snake. It was about two months old when it was found, and around 8 inches (20 centimeters) long. It is now on its way to its new home at the University of Valencia, where biologist Enrique Font will study it.




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Stonehenge
Great Pyramid of Giza
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Colossus of Rhodes
Lighthouse of Alexandria
GREAT SPHINX OF GIZA
Leaning Tower of Pisa
Underwater Museum Cancún Mexico
Crystal Underwater Pyramid Cuba
Pompeii After Eruption
Underwater Pyramids off Cuba
Rio de Janeiro
Blue Belize Hole
Easter Island Secrets
Lencois Mranhenses Brasil
Colosseum Rome Italy
Leshan Giant Buddha China
Valley of Love Ireland
Kukulkan Pyramid Chichen Itza
The Great Wall of China
Underwater Cancun
Machu Picchu
Grand Canyon
Angkor Wat
Valley of the Kings
Angel Falls
Yellowstone
Sahara Desert
Matterhorn Mountain
Aurora
Victoria Falls
Parícutin
Pamukkale
Lost Heracleion City
Black Hole
Largest Crab Ever
Ayers Rock
The Wonder Cave
Mount Rushmore
Memnon Colossi
3,800 year old mummy Xiahoe
Arizona Wave
Wonder Rock
Lost Kingdom Of Cleopatra
Tutankhamun Mummy
Twin Town
Red Rain
Borobudur Temple
Banaue Rice Terraces
Sailing Stones
Spontaneous combustion
Paracas Skulls
Famous Petra
Terracotta Army
Kittiwake Shipwreck
Waterfalls Rio Tulija
Fly Geyser
K2 Pakistan
Natural Zhangjiaje
KAMPUNG KUANTAN FIREFLIES
Stone Forest
Katmai Crater Lake
Reed Flute Cave
Bagan Myanmar
Sigiriya Sri Lanka
Columnar Basalt
Blue Neon Waves
Bermuda Triangle
Shroud of Turin
Nasca Lines
Ark of the Covenant
El Chupacabra
Area 51
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Tunguska Explosion Russia
Door to Hell
Everglades Park
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Timbuktu
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Plitvice Lakes
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Pillars of weathering
Antarctica
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Giant Stone Balls



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