Two heads are better than one. Sounds great when it’s a concept applied to figuring out a specific problem, but not so much when it’s literally referring to an animal suffering from polycephaly – having more than one head. Recent claims of sharks being found sporting an extra noggin are not Internet hoaxes, but the online world’s over-hyping of the finds with endless tongue-in-cheek comparisons to Jaws and Sharknado has made the whole situation a little suspect.
Yes, two-headed sharks have been found. Just like two-headed snakes, pigs, lambs and even dolphins have been discovered. But are two-headed sharks becoming more common? It’s difficult to say for sure. For one thing, oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface — that’s a lot of deep-water territory to keep an eye on. As the human population continues to grow the odds of finding such creatures increases. Combine that with factors like over-fishing causing decreased shark populations and the resulting inbreeding… well, two-headedness is an unfortunate genetic defect that can happen.
Also at play is that some sharks are capable of giving birth to upwards of 50 offspring at a time. Researchers have also found instances of two-headed sharks in laboratory studies. In one particular case it was one embryo out of 797, or 0.13 per cent. But don’t worry about coming across a two-headed finned monstrosity in the wild, since one major factor working against these sharks is the bitter irony of an animal born in the ocean that can’t swim. Yes, two heads fighting over which direction to go makes for an easy target for predators.
Story by Jay Moon
- Two-headed sharks are not only real, they’re becoming more and more common
- Two-Headed Sharks Keep Popping Up—No One Knows Why
- Dicephalous v. diprosopus sharks: record of a two-headed embryo of Galeus atlanticus and review of the literature
- You (Probably) Don’t Have To Worry About Two-Headed Shark Attacks
- 2-Headed Sharks May Be On The Rise (But No One Knows Why)