A fisherman made a strange haul in the Florida Keys when one of the bull sharks he caught birthed a twin-headed offspring. The fisherman kept the creature and later shared it with scientists who were researching dicephalia, the medical condition of having more than one head.
According to the study, it is the first instance of such a phenomenon in bull sharks. Dicephalia is extremely rare in sharks with only a handful of cases being reported. Magnetic imaging of the body revealed that the skeleton and internal organs have developed into parallel systems culminating in two heads. An underdeveloped tail and disproportionately head-heavy body meant that the shark would have had trouble swimming, if it could at all.
Study co-author Michael Wagner informed Our Amazing Planet that the likelihood of it surviving long in the wild is low. Fast moving predators such as bull shark can’t afford the extra burden of an extra head–deciding on which way to go will also probably be a major problem. Slower-moving animals such as reptiles have been known to cultivate dicephalia with some degree of survivability as pets. In fact, there is a small and oftentimes lucrative market for double-headed turtles, lizards and snakes.
Todd Ray, owner of the Venice Beach Freakshow in California, happens to own the world’s largest collection of double-headed animals. According to the Daily Mail, Ray had spent over $157,000 on 22 of the strange animals as of last April. If treated well, animals with dicephalia can still lead fruitful lives.
That is not the case here. The two-headed bull shark is reported to have died shortly after discovery.