Rare conjoined turtle with 2 heads and one body dies from organ failure

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An extremely rare conjoined twin turtle with two heads and one body has died after suffering from multiple organ failure.

Tourists found and rescued the strange reptile at Turkey's Pamukkale hot springs, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in November last year.

They then alerted conservationists about the creature.

It was unlikely that the baby tortoise would have been able to survive by itself, as it was only four weeks old at the time.

The rare animal was being looked after at the Pamukkale University Biology Department, where researchers studied the creature.

Dr Eyup Baskale said when they were handed over to the experts that the turtles were clearly conjoined twins, as their digestive system ended at a single orifice.

Their hind legs also appeared to belong to a single individual, added Dr Baskale.

The twin turtles were examined in a laboratory and were found to weigh just 13 grams, with a shell length of 1.2cm for one of the conjoined turtles, while its sibling's shell length was 1.3cm.

They were reportedly named 'Cotton' and 'Castle' by the scientists, after the Pamukkale hot springs, where they were found, as Pamukkale means cotton castle in Turkish.

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But the pair died on Sunday of multiple organ failure, despite the team preparing them for hibernation and taking “great care of them”.

Dr Baskale said: “We may encounter such cases with a probability of about one in 100,000.

“We aim to provide good data by conducting scientific studies on the carcasses of these creatures, whose survival rate is very limited.”

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It is still currently unclear what species of turtle exactly the Siamese twins belonged to.

Despite its rarity, there have been a few cases of such discoveries in recent years.

In October 2021, a two-headed diamondback terrapin with six legs was found in Massachusetts and was being looked after at the Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center.

A staff member said at the time: “On admission, both sides were very alert and active and our veterinary team was eager to learn more about them.

It came from a "head start" scheme, meaning researchers moved the egg away from a dangerous location with the aim to hatch it and release it in late spring.

Although having two heads can be dangerous and most animals suffering from it often die early, the turtle’s carers are optimistic.

"They have been in their care for just over two weeks and continue to be bright and active," the New England Wildlife Center continued.

The centre went on: "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.”

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  • Animals

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