Throughout the years, many mysterious and curious finds have been uncovered in the world of wildlife. This also includes some of the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not finds like two-headed turtles, goats and cows. What some call “freaks of nature” is really caused by a miscommunication in genes as some of the oddest exchanges in DNA make an appearance during birth. In this article, we will take a look at the interesting discovery that has been recently found in China.
As Eric Buffetaut of the Center for National Scientific Research (CNRS) from Paris, France and other researchers and scientists surveyed the land, they came across a fine discovery. Recovered from the earth, the fossil of a two-headed reptile of a young specimen. The creature is believed to be one that once lived at the same time as the dinosaurs. It is considered a great find because a fossil such as this is quite a rare occurrence.
To shed light on the find, the discovery was covered in the February 22 issue of a journal by the name of Biology Letters. It was stated to be one of the earliest known examples of a birth defect that scientists are quite familiar with. Known as axial bifurcation, this characteristic has been known to plague living reptiles. The growth of two heads on a reptile comes about as a response to a damaged embryo, which leads to the double development of certain body parts.
The remains of the reptile find were located in the Yixian Formation, which is situated in the northeastern part of China. The Yixian is known as a fossil deposit rich in a variety of ancient remains, including plenty of examples of early birds, as well as feathered dinosaur specimens. The fossil was identified as Hyphalosaurus lingyuanensis, which passed on as a young critter. It is also said to have thrived during the Cretaceous Period, which was about 120 million years ago.
The Hyphalosaurus was not a dinosaur during this time, but is considered an early reptile. It was later identified as belonging to a wide-ranging collection of “primitive aquatic and semi-aquatic creatures” that are now referred to as choristoderes. It is this group of creatures that had the appearance of lizards or crocodiles, yet had the same characteristics of smaller sized plesiosaurs, which were ancient reptiles of the water that displayed “barrel-shaped bodies, short tails, paddle-like limbs” and sometimes “long serpentine necks.” This type of description is often the same account given when trying to give details on the infamous Loch Ness Monster.
It was the Hyphalosaurus that is grouped into this class of choristoderes, which is thought to be the last on its kind. The two-headed fossil that was recently uncovered measured a little more than three inches long, whereas the adult version could reach sizes of close to three feet in length. If it roamed the Earth today, it would have resembled that of a miniature or baby Loch Ness.
There are numerous details that set this find different than previous entities. The limbs of such a creature did not possess the flipper-like qualities like plesiosaurs; they showcased limbs similar to the lizard.
Another curious fact concerning the find is that not only does it have two heads, but also two necks. This is one of the rarest points regarding this example. How this specimen during its life met its end is unknown. Some researchers felt it was a hatchling while others felt it was a stillborn. Whatever happened to the fossil, it is known that it did not have long to live.