Two-headed Bull Shark Fetus Found by Fisherman in Gulf of Mexico
A rare two-headed bull shark has been found by a fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida. The fisherman caught a female bull shark off the Florida Keys in April 2011 and was stunned to find the deformed fetus.
The two-headed bull shark was brought to the marine science department at Florida Keys Community College. From there, it was transported to Michigan State's campus for further examination.
Wagner and his team were able to detail the discovery with magnetic resonance imaging. Without damaging the unique specimen, the MRIs revealed two distinct heads, hearts and stomachs with the remainder of the body joining together in back half of the animal to form a single tail.
The scientists describe it in a study published online March 25 in the Journal of Fish Biology.
While approximately six two-headed sharks have been documented, this is the first multi-headed bull shark to be officially recorded.
"It is quite rare, but much more rarely observed," said Dr. Michael Wagner, a researcher at Michigan State University and co-author of the study. "You'll see many more cases of two-headed lizards and snakes. That's because those organisms are often bred in captivity, and the breeders are more likely to observe the anomalies."
By technical terms it's called "axial bifurcation" in which the deformity is a result of the embryo beginning to split into two separate organisms, or twins, but doing so incompletely, Wagner said in a statement. "It's a very rare mutation that occurs across different animals, including humans. Halfway through the process of forming twins, the embryo stops dividing."
The two-headed fetus won't be able to live for very long in the wild. Wager says, "When you're a predator that needs to move fast to catch other fast-moving fish … that'd be nearly impossible with this mutation."
He also added that it's small body won't help it survive either. "It had very developed heads, but a very stunted body," Wagner said. T"here's only so much energy that can go into the body's development, and it went into the shark's double noggins."
Two Headed Bull Shark Discovered In Gulf Of Mexico
A fisherman reeled in quite the catch off the Florida Keys in 2011, and scientists just discovered what exactly it was.