What could this creature be? (Photo: Patrick Rice, Shark Defense/Florida Keys Community College via MSU)
On Monday researchers announced the first ever documented discovery of a two-headed bull shark.
The study led by Michigan State University researchers was published in the Journal of Fish Biology, confirming the animal is a single shark with two heads, not conjoined twins as could have been the case.
“This is certainly one of those interesting and rarely detected phenomena,” MSU assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife Michael Wagner said in the university's press release. “It’s good that we have this documented as part of the world’s natural history, but we’d certainly have to find many more before we could draw any conclusions about what caused this.”
But finding more examples of animals expressing these anomalies often poses a problem because they rarely live to adulthood. This two-headed bull shark was only found because it was a fetus inside another shark that was cut open by fishermen who netted it.
X-ray of the two-headed fetal shark. (Photo: Michael Wagner/MSU)
Shows like "The Simpsons" have popularized the idea pollution inducing mutant fish, but Wagner said it is "unwarranted" to assumed pollution played a factor in this shark's abnormality.
This is what an adult bull shark looks like. (Photo: Wikimedia)
According to MSU, there have been other species of sharks born with two heads, but this is the first account of a bull shark. This shark was found in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2011 and brought to Florida Keys Community College. It was then brought to MSU for further analysis.
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(H/T: Science Daily)