Fishermen off the coast of the Netherlands pulled in a very surprising catch. Conjoined twin harbor porpoises were wrapped up in their nets. Hard to know if we should refer to the creature as singular or plural, but either way, it’s only the 10th of it’s kind recorded, according to the New Scientist:
Cetaceans are a group of animals that includes whales and dolphins, and it’s rare for them to have regular twins, as the mother’s womb is generally not big enough. There’s no way of knowing how frequently two-headed babies are born, since the ocean is deep and guards its secrets, but scientists believe it’s very rare.
You know what’s not rare? This joke:
Erwin Kompanje at the Erasmus MC University Medical Center in Rotterdam is one of several authors writing about the porpoise, and they are as excited as anyone can be about a two-headed animal.
“The anatomy of cetaceans is strikingly different from terrestrial mammals with adaptations for living in the sea as a mammal. Much is unknown,” said Kompanje. “Adding any extra case to the known nine specimens brings more knowledge on this aspect.”
According to Kompanje, the porpoise was almost certainly already dead when the fisherman captured it, as its tail had not yet stiffened, which it needs to do in order for them to swim. It also had a flat dorsal fin and hairs on its upper lips, which usually fall out as porpoises age in a kind of reverse puberty.
The most recent documented case of a two-headed cetacean was a dolphin found on the coast of Turkey in 2014:
National Geographic reported at the time that the dolphin was too decayed to properly identify its species, but it had appeared to survive outside the womb for a time.
The ocean is a mystery that I would not want to try and navigate with two heads.