Conjoined twins are incredibly rare, which is why this development was deemed a “horror.”
In the frigid waters of the North Sea, it is not uncommon for fishermen to reel in all kinds of catches. While porpoises, unfortunately, sometimes do end up in their nets, what showed up on May 30th was, without a doubt, the craziest thing anyone had ever seen.
The Washington Post reports that off the Hook of Holland, a fishing boat ended up hauling up a two-foot-long baby porpoise… with two heads. In awe of the creature, one of the fishermen snapped a photograph. Before long, the image made its way to the inbox of Erwin Kompanje, the curator of mammals at the Natural History Museum in Rotterdam.
Kompanje was amazed by the creature, which he says are conjoined male twins. From scrutinizing the image, he was able to deduce that the twins might have been born alive, but probably didn’t live for very long. That’s because they probably shared a single heart and each had a brain which told them to do different things in order to survive.
Because conjoined twins are an extremely rare find, the image went viral. It helped that the porpoise twins were in good condition when brought aboard. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t have a happy ending for science. Kompanje told the press that because the fishermen thought it was illegal to catch the conjoined twins, they threw the anomaly back into the ocean.
“They thought it was illegal to collect it,” Kompanje said. “They made four photographs and threw it back into the sea. Back into oblivion.”
“For a cetologist, this is a real horror,” he added.
On a positive note, Kompanje was able to publish a paper in DEINSEA, the online journal of the natural history museum, in collaboration with one scientist of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and one from Wageningen Marine Research. While the world may never know more about the conjoined porpoise twins, at least a photo was snapped, allowing scientists to discern some clues about the unexpected catch.
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