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Rare two-headed turtle hatches at Cape Cod nesting site

A rare two-headed diamondback terrapin recently hatched in Barnstable, Massachusetts. SOURCE: New England Wildlife Center
A rare two-headed diamondback terrapin recently hatched in Barnstable, Massachusetts. SOURCE: New England Wildlife Center

BARNSTABLE, Mass. – A rare two-headed diamondback terrapin turtle is alive and kicking -- with all six of its legs!

The pair is being held at Cape Wildlife Center in Massachusetts after hatching two weeks ago at a protected nesting site. Wildlife experts said this turtle is a threatened species in the area.

The condition is called bicephaly and is a rare anomaly that can occur from both genetic and environmental factors that influence an embryo during development.

The wildlife center said the two heads operate independently -- coming up for air at different times and inside its shell are two gastrointestinal systems to feed both sides of its body.

Staff at the center nicknamed the turtle Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

“They are eating, swimming, and gaining weight each day. It is impossible to get inside the heads of these two, but it appears that they work together to navigate their environment,” Cape Wildlife Center wrote.

They’re hoping to perform a CT scan to learn more about its circulatory system. Click here to read more.


About the Author:

Carianne Luter is a social media producer for News4Jax and has worked at Channel 4 since December 2015. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in communications.