He was hunting wild mushrooms. Instead he found a rare, inexplicable two-headed deer
May 10, 2018 06:32 PM
Updated May 11, 2018 02:51 PM
A Minnesota man on the hunt for wild mushrooms was scouring the floor of a forest, about a mile from the Mississippi River, when he made an astounding discovery.
It wasn’t a rare mushroom, either. It was twin deer, conjoined at the body but with separate heads and necks. The white-tailed fawns were female, and looked recently dead — they were clean and dry, as if they had just been groomed by their mother. Beyond the two heads, though, much about the fawns was normal: their fur, their heads, their legs. The baby deer even had an “almost perfect” spot pattern running down their shared back, researchers said.
“It’s amazing and extremely rare,” Gino D’Angelo, a University of Georgia researcher who used to work for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said in a statement.
The mushroom enthusiast gave the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources a call in May 2016 to let the agency know about the find. The twins were soon picked up just outside of rural Freeburg, Minnesota, near where the Mississippi flows south into Iowa along the Wisconsin border. Then the fawns were frozen, guaranteeing they would be well preserved and in good condition for scientific study, researchers said.
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After that, scientists ran a battery of tests: a full necropsy, a CT scan and magnetic resonance imaging at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, researchers said. And now D’Angelo and other researchers have published a paper describing the rare deformity. It appears in the April edition of the journal American Midland Naturalist.
The fawns had never breathed outside air, tests on their lungs revealed. That confirmed that the twins were stillborn. The necropsy showed that the pair shared a liver, which was malformed, and that they had extra intestinal tracts and spleens, researchers said. As for their hearts, there were two — but with one shared pericardial sac, which is the fibrous tissue that surrounds the heart.
What does it all mean? For one, the conjoined deer never stood a chance, researchers said