Australian Fisherman Catches Rare Double-mouthed Bream


Commercial fisherman Garry Warrick estimates that he brings in about 100 metric tons of fish every year, so he does not usually consider it strange to see a few deformities in fish. In fact, he told ABC News that he occasionally comes across carp with dolphin-shaped heads—and once he even saw a two-headed turtle. But one bream he recently caught in South Australia’s Lake Bonney made him sit up and take notice. It was a fish that had an unusual condition called diprosopus, which is a rare congenital disorder that causes parts of a face to be duplicated somewhere else on the head. For this bream, this manifested as an extra mouth.

“The top one opens and closes but the bottom one looks permanently open,” Warrick said.

The bream is similar to a double-mouthed rainbow trout caught in Nebraska a decade ago. Experts say that this kind of genetic mutation occurs in the wild quite rarely, and although the fish may appear strange, they are often safe to eat.

Unlike conjoined twins or animals with polycephaly, or two heads, diprosopus does not appear to be caused by an incomplete separation of two embryos. Instead, the condition is actually caused by abnormal activity by the protein SHH, which can duplicate certain facial structures. Most animals born with the condition do not survive long after birth, but those that do make a rare find for fishermen such as Warrick.

“It was very unusual,” Warrick told the Daily Mail. “I have been fishing here for 30 years, and I have come across a few deformed fish, but never anything quite like this.”

The deformed fish that Warrick catches usually end up as fertilizer, but the fisherman says he will be keeping this one in the freezer.

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