Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, nature throws a curve ball, in the form of abnormal reptile and amphibians. From two-headed turtles and snakes to multi-legged frogs and much more, it’s safe to say that the following animal anomalies aren’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill creatures. With that said, casting these genetic castoffs as freaks or mutants would diminish the unique stories around their origins. Like Siamese twins, conjoined reptiles and amphibians occur when a developing embryo starts to split into identical twins but then stops. They may also develop multiple limbs when the embryo is damaged.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Don’t Compare
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Having two heads is not advantageous for most reptiles. However, of the rare reptiles that have two minds, turtles seem to respond the best. Both heads are able to eat at the same time and surprisingly cooperate very well. Even more surprising, these abnormal turtles tend to live for long periods of time, specifically 15-20 years.
Snakes in the Grass: Multiple Personalities
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As opposed to two-headed turtles that are more adaptable to surviving in the wild, two-headed snakes aren’t so lucky. As these snakes share the same stomach, they often fight over the same prey. They also go different ways, making it difficult for them to survive in the wild if they needed to flee from a larger predator. With that said, two-headed snakes have shown promise when taken out of the wild. Specifically, one two-headed, king snake lived for 17 years under the care of researchers at Arizona State University, according to National Geographic.
Conjoined Crocodiles: A Very Rare Sight
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Earlier this decade, a pair of conjoined crocodiles were hatched at a gator farm in Bangkok. Named Chang and Eng (in honor of the world’s most famous Siamese twins), the conjoined crocodiles shared the same body and had four legs each. Unfortunately, the conjoined crocodiles only survived for a week.
These Frogs Have No Chance with Miss Piggy
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Over the years, more and more frogs with multiple limbs have been discovered in North America. One researcher has linked this development to a runoff of nitrogen and phosphorous from nearby farms and ranches. As a result of these nutrients entering the water supply, parasitic flatworms develop and often form cysts in tadpoles. This attachment of the flatworms to the tadpoles can lead to wild deformities, including legs sprouting out from the strangest spots.
Hardly the Geico Lizard
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Developmental deformities are not just limited to the turtles, snakes, crocodiles and frogs mentioned above. Some lizards have also been plagued by two heads, including at the front and back of the body. Amazingly, the condition of having more than one head (polycephaly) is nothing new to reptiles. The first-known reptile with two-heads was named Hyphalosaurus and lived 120 million years ago when dinosaurs ruled the earth during the Cretaceous period. Like the two-headed crocodile, Hyphalosaurus did not live long.