Science experiment gone wrong? A results of nuclear leaks? Speculation has been rife after Dutch fishermen caught a two-headed newborn harbour porpoise in the North Sea. A victim of by-catch, it was buried at sea after being documented by the crew who did not keep it fearing it would be an illegal action.
Upon their return to port, they alerted local authorities and research groups, who were very intrigued by the find, but were disappointed at the lack of a physical specimen. Conjoined twins are rare but not unheard of in the biological world. Humans have given birth to them, as have many different animals who have been observed doing so. However, in the animal kingdom, whilst it is already rare enough for these animals to be born, it is even rarer for them to survive.
From the pictures handed to scientists, they were able that this was true of the two-headed porpoise caught by the bewildered fishing crew. It is likely that the animal died soon after birth, or was stillborn, as several physical properties were lacking in this particular individual, such as non-erect dorsal fins and not stiffening of the tail. All of these, in addition with a visible umbilical opening led scientists to believe that it died shortly after birth.
A full study was recently published online by the Journal of Natural History Museum Rotterdam and can be accessed by all. It discusses the findings of the Dutch crew as it relates to the porpoise, whilst also comparing it to previous cases.
This male porpoise marks the tenth recorded case of conjoined twins in dolphins, as Erwin Kompanje, author of the study pointed out to assembled media. Kompanje, who helped write a study on this phenomenon also explained that there is no known cause for conjoined twins, but one can infer from medical science that like just in humans, embryonic issues may be to blame for this particular incident.
Far from being a blackhat conspiracy theory on nuclear leaks or scientific anomalies that have at times been peddled across the internet, this case is squarely set as a normal yet unusual phenomenon that happens organically in nature. As has been theorized in the past, it is entirely possible that this type of thing occurs in nature far more often than we realise, and it could just be a case of our inability to record or observe them as often.