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Conjoined Animals and Birds

Updated on July 16, 2017

Approximately one in 50,000 human births result in birth of conjoined twins. Conjoined twins are also very rare in the animal world due to the detrimental effect the conditions normally has on health and mobility. This hub is focused on examples where each twin is well-formed rather than evidenced only by isolated limbs or other body parts.

There is evidence that a tendency for conjoining may be inherited, as it is found at higher levels in some strains of a species (such as rabbits). It is also linked to environmental contamination in species such as fish.

Wild Animals

Birds

Conjoining appears to be particularly rare in birds. These conjoined barn swallows were discovered in 2008. They are a very rare example, not only because this deformity seems to occur infrequently but because the few conjoined birds that are hatched typically do not live long enough to be discovered and recorded.

Buffalo

A case of conjoined buffalo twins is described here.

Cattle

A fetal bovine example (2004) is how here. This 2009 example (see right) was delivered b caesarian section.

Fish

The aquatic environment may be more supportive of conjoined body structure. This example of tilapia twins connected at the stomach is kept in a Bangkok aquarium. A similar conformation has also been seen in arowana (2006).

Deer

This taxidermy example exists of a conjoined fawn, but as with any preserved specimen it is difficult to judge whether it is authentic.

Pig

A fetal example (2010).

Farmed Exotics

In 2001 this pair of conjoined crocodiles was hatched in the Samut Prakarn Crocodile Farm. This conformation with attachment at the pelvis seems to be more common with reptiles, such as these turtles.

There are quite a few two headed snakes such as this python. The can be raised to adulthood with careful feeding. And it is more common to see lateral (side-by-side) conjoining even in turtles (see below).

Other examples of conjoining have been documented in geckos.

Conjoined twins in turtles from Hildebrand: Journal of Heredity 29:243, 1938
Conjoined twins in turtles from Hildebrand: Journal of Heredity 29:243, 1938
canine conjoined twin
canine conjoined twin | Source

Domestic Animals

Cats

Several cases of conjoined kittens are collected online; I have yet to find any adult examples. (Fetal examples via: Prof Mundie)

Cattle

The Buckhorn Saloon has a taxidermy example of conjoined calves on display.

Dogs

Canine conjoined cases seems to be rarer and more of in the form of one head with two-bodies that is essentially unable to survive. (Fetal examples via: Ballyhooligan, Tarleton Prevet Club)

Sheep

A conjoined lambs is on display at the Buckhorn Museum in San Antonio, photographs here, and here. An example joined at the head can be seen here.

Conjoined twinning has also been described in rats and pigs.

Insects

Conjoining may even happen in insects such as ants.

Source

Artifically Produced

Whole animals such as mice have been surgically joined together so that they share a common blood supply. This procedure is referred to as parabiosis.

There are also gaff conjoined animals that are produced after death by taxidermy.

References:

  • Chai, C. K., & Crary, D. D. (1971). Conjoined twinning in rabbits. Teratology, 4(4), 433-444.
  • Harris SB, Goldenthal EI (1977). Conjoined Twins (Cephalothoracopagus) in a Charles River CD Rat. Veterinary Pathology, 14, 519. [pdf]
  • Ingalls, T. H., Philbrook, F. R., & Majima, A. (1969). Conjoined twins in zebra fish. Archives of Environmental Health: An International Journal, 19(3), 344-352.
  • O'Neill JA, Holcomb GW. (1988). Surgical experience with thirteen conjoined twins. Annals of surgery, 208, 299 -312.

Comments

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    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 

      5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Amazing to find those conjoined swallows - I never heard of it happening in birds or fish before. You found some fascinating examples!

    • sarasa66 profile image

      sarasa66 

      6 years ago

      is cojoined animals and humans due to genetic disorders or environmetally induced abberations?this is disheartening anyway.

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