Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Two-headed Reptile Fossil Found in China

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the better-than-one dept.

Science 156

[TheBORG] writes "A tiny skeleton from the Early Cretaceous shows an embryonic or newborn reptile with two heads and two necks, called axial bifurcation ('two-headedness') (a well-known developmental flaw among reptile species today such as turtles and snakes) was found in China by French and Chinese paleontologists recovered from the Yixian Formation, which is nearly 150 million years old."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

The ass casts the deciding vote (4, Interesting)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322226)

Seriously, I wonder if there is any evolutionary connection between the placement of some neural processing in the hindquarters and the frequency of two heads in the reptilian class, as if mother nature was experimenting with protecting brainpower by moving it around to a safer location, or by duplicating it. Since reptiles had the first big brains, this may have been the first occasion to arise in which trying to protect brains might be worth the expense.

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (2, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322268)

Seriously, I wonder if there is any evolutionary connection between the placement of some neural processing in the hindquarters and the frequency of two heads in the reptilian class, as if mother nature was experimenting with protecting brainpower by moving it around to a safer location, or by duplicating it. Since reptiles had the first big brains, this may have been the first occasion to arise in which trying to protect brains might be worth the expense.

I doubt it's anything so "designed". Mother nature experimenting would assume some sort of intelligent design and my karma can't handle another ID debate.

Seriously, it is much more likely that this is just conjoined twins. Go to the Wiki [wikipedia.org] page and you see a picture of people with the same thing.

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (5, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322282)

After about two seconds more research, I found that the condition is called Polycephaly:

Again, from Wiki. [wikipedia.org] Copied and pasted to save you guys a click:
Polycephaly is the condition of having more than one head. By far the most common use is in relation to the anatomical head, though the word has also been used for other meanings of "head". The term is derived from the stems poly- meaning 'many' and kephal- meaning "head", and encompasses bicephaly and dicephaly (both referring to two-headedness). A variation is an animal born with two faces on a single head, a condition known as diprosopus. In medical terms these are all congenital cephalic disorders.

There are many occurrences of multi-headed animals, in real life as well as in mythology. Many fantasy universes contain races of creatures with multiple heads. In heraldry and vexillology, the double-headed eagle is a common symbol, though no such animal is known to have ever existed.

Bicephalic animals are the only type of multi-headed creatures seen in the real world and form by the same process as conjoined twins: the zygote begins to split but fails to completely separate. One extreme example of this is the condition of craniopagus parasiticus, whereby a fully developed body has a parasitic twin head joined at the skull.

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (3, Informative)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322504)

Without hitting the ID crap.
We often refer to mother nature "experimenting" with evolution. We here all know* that there is no ID in the experiment part of the statement, it is more a euphamism for some random mutation that may or may not stick. To that end the only intelligent thing about having your brain in your head is the bandwith available for visual and auditory perception and processing. I'd venture to say a brain in the chest cavity would make a hell of a lot more sense and invest in faster nerves for the ears and eyes, except that until recently if you lost your ears and eyes you were effectively dead anyway. Besides we all know the world was created last Thursday with all our engrams pre-programmed :-)

-nB

* even the trolls who refuse to acknowledge they know

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (2, Interesting)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322632)

I'd venture to say a brain in the chest cavity would make a hell of a lot more sense...

How would you dissipate heat from a brain in your chest?

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (4, Insightful)

data1 (23016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322666)

Evolve radiating appendages that are highly vascularized to move blood rapidly away from the hot "core" with the brain.
Doesnt't sound plausible because high blood flow at those rates exposes you to serious damage by relatively small injuries.

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322792)

Which just goes to show that I am not an intellegent enough designer :-)
But really if there was enough impedimus to have the brain even better protected than the skull and dura, then I'm relatively sure that there would be some way to move the heat away... Deeply embedded sweat glands such that vascular flow is not needed, pre-heated sweat instead? Dehydration risk I guess. Does the brain really generate that much heat? I'm really not all that educated on the finer points of the thermodynamics of the brain.
Ah, I'll leave it to his noodly appendage, god, yaweh (sp?) $DeityOfChoice
-nB

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (3, Funny)

ag0ny (59629) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322848)

Ah, I'll leave it to his noodly appendage, god, yaweh (sp?) $DeityOfChoice
-nB
Sorry, but I'm busy today. Remind me about this tomorrow.

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (3, Funny)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322858)

Post-It is on your altar.
thanks :-)

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17323514)

Judging from the energy use, I'd say yes. About 2% of body weight and 20% of the energy use.

Reference [wikipedia.org]

Every modder can tell you (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322778)

Add water cooling!

Re:Every modder can tell you (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322986)

Add water cooling!

Never work. Just think what would happen to an animal that developed a coolant leak.

KFG

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323012)

And once you've got your brain out in the airflow you increase it's radiative efficiency by adding surface area - convolutions/size.

Feeling a bit hot/chilly? The solution is likely to be found in what you put on your head, not your chest.

KFG

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (1)

mqduck (232646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322780)

We here all know* that there is no ID in the experiment part of the statement, it is more a euphamism for some random mutation that may or may not stick.


What?! Thats news to me!

Love,
Troll

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (3, Insightful)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322802)

I'd venture to say a brain in the chest cavity would make a hell of a lot more sense and invest in faster nerves for the ears and eyes

If it made more "sense" to have the brain in the chest, we would have brains in our chests. It's just pointless to argue with mother nature when it comes to design. You can probably point to some kinks that specific species are still working out, but anything this universal is so damn near optimal that it's awe-inspiring.

I suspect the answer here is that there's no such thing as "faster nerves"; you'd have to increase nerve cell length to cut down on the number of synapses, which would make them more fragile, and, more importantly, less manageable (and still wouldn't make up for the comparatively huge distance). Come to think of it, it's the old "higher throughput" == "lowered responsiveness" problem.

Plus, the head is better protected than the chest; it would probably add an inordinate amount of weight to the skeletal structure to fortify it to the same degree. Also, maintaining the blood-brain barrier would probably be tricky without the separation that the neck provides (not to mention that your circulatory system would be right next to the thing).

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (2, Interesting)

kooky45 (785515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322970)

The brain also generates a substantial amount of heat. In humans it's thought one of the reasons our ancestors started to stand vertically was so their heads could be higher from the ground and stay cooler in the hot climate where they evolved. Any animal with a large amount of body tissue surrounding their brain (in a chest cavity) would suffer overheating, and having the brain near the surface of the body makes it more vulnerable to damage from bumps, falls and attacks.

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323636)

If it made more "sense" to have the brain in the chest, we would have brains in our chests.
I'm a Pierson's puppeteer [larryniven.org] , you insensitive clod! Don't make me turn round!

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (4, Informative)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323728)

***If it made more "sense" to have the brain in the chest, we would have brains in our chests. It's just pointless to argue with mother nature when it comes to design. You can probably point to some kinks that specific species are still working out, but anything this universal is so damn near optimal that it's awe-inspiring.***

Mother nature doesn't necessarily come up with optimal designs, just non-lethal ones. "Tradition" has a lot of influence. In the case of heads and brains, our (hypothetical) bilateran ancestor probably was a segmented animal with a tendancy to merge the segments at one end into a specialized structure with things like eyes, mouth's et al slapped together from pre-existing structures. As a result, chordates, arthropods, mollusks, and various kinds of "worms" all have their heads on one end of the body.

At least that's what most people think is the reason for the architecture shared by many (not all) phyla. The fossil evidence from the time period where the various phyla probably diverged is scant and not entirely helpful.

Yes, if there were an enormous advantage to locating the brain in the torso, it'd probably be there. But if the advantage is small, and getting to that arrangement involves a number of steps with no particular advantage, it might very well never happen.

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17324216)

key sensors located at a high and mobile point - processing for these sensors placed as close as possible to them

makes sense to me

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (2, Interesting)

SinGunner (911891) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322316)

but how similar would the brains be? all the inputs would be different save for some aspects of feeling, though the general nature of the inputs would be very similar. it'd be hard to test too, eh?

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17322372)

I want to twist your nipples, macaca.

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17322482)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Horror/Sci Fi writer Stephen King was found dead in his Maine home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (2, Funny)

Fireflymantis (670938) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322520)

Any links? google mews shows nothing. (at the moment) If this is true, God Speed Stephen King. I hope your journey into the unknown is exciting as the stories you have told.

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (0, Offtopic)

tak amalak (55584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17324042)

You're so dumb.

     

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (5, Interesting)

Sique (173459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322954)

Dual-headed miscreants are also common with amphibia (frogs, newts), not only with reptilia. But because amphibia are often prey to a lot of predators, the dual-heads don't survive very long. An interesting exception is the site of the Tchernobyl nuclear plant, where after the nuclear catastrophe in 1986 most of the predators have left, and now the nearby lake shows miscreated newts and frogs more often. It's not because of the background radiation (it's back to normal levels at least in the lake), but because of the lack of predators that those animals survive so often.

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17324416)

After reading TFA and your subject line, I'm disappointed your post didn't mention a monkey with four asses. [wikipedia.org]

Re:The ass casts the deciding vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17324606)

I saw a TV inteview of a man with three buttocks.

Schizophrenic? (1)

Ninjaesque One (902204) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322234)

French and Chinese scientists? Two heads?

Time for clozapine [wikipedia.org] .

I tried to claim credit for this... (3, Funny)

BrunoBigfoot (996441) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322256)

But everyone looked at me like I had two heads.

prolly a fake (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322278)

Not to be all stereotypical but a lot of outrageous claims and fakes have come from that area in the last couple years. I hope some super-experts examine it. After that, I bet this won't be the last time we hear about it on Slashdot. Oh and heheheheheh at the picture in the article :P

Re:prolly a fake (1)

thedarknite (1031380) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322342)

I'm inclined to agree that it is a dubious claim, considering the only picture shown in the article was an artistic impression of what it looked like whole. Also all the of the axial bifurcation mutations that I've seen on modern day reptiles tend to only have a short length from the point of divergence, where as this one appears to have two seperate necks as well as heads.

Re:prolly a fake (1, Informative)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322440)

oooooooh! Now I remember! there was this whole big thing on the discovery channel or something about a really fractured but put back together fossil that was something outrageous like the first mammal ever or some other thing that was never supposed to exist like a half bird half mammal. Some foreign ppl claimed to find it and finally after years they proved it was more than one fossil put together because of some key piece of evidence they finally found. This sounds even more outrageous to me.

Re:prolly a fake (1)

T1nuz (1017884) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323032)

It was in Nature last week, some mesozoic mammal which had skin flaps for gliding. Given the artist impressions, it looked like on of those gliding squirrels to me. Stupid thing was that they had already found the fossil but misinterpreted it, concluded it was some kind of very common mammal and therefore probably used it as a display piece on someones desk, which eventually made the discovery possible. Sometimes a little luck is all you need.... As for this mammal, why couldn't it be real? The type for deformation is apparently rather common and now we have found a fossil of some embryo with it. It's probably really fun to find, very interesting, but no scientific breakthrough or anything.

Re:prolly a fake (0, Offtopic)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323792)

"Some foreign ppl".

Is this how far Slashdot has fallen?

Probably real (1)

CountBrass (590228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322972)

I've seen a picture of the fossil (alongside the painted picture) and, assuming the fossill itself hasn't been faked, the cartoon is quite true to the fossil.

Re:prolly a fake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17323586)

Try this link for a picture of the fossil

Link [newscientist.com]

Re:prolly a fake (5, Informative)

krayzkrok (889340) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323162)

Everyone seems to be missing the point of this discovery (including most news agencies who think it's a cool story). Bifurcation of the head is a pretty common genetic abnormality in a number of vertebrates, but especially reptiles because eggs are exposed to a wider range of temperature extremes. High temperatures during incubation, particularly early in incubation, very often lead to genetic abnormalities. A "hot" crocodile or turtle nest, for example, will give you a lot of dead, deformed embryos including those with two tails, no jaws, two heads, and any other number of strange mutations. It's exceptionally rare for one to survive past hatching, but it has happened.

So basically these guys have discovered a fossilised embryo that was deformed during incubation, not a two-headed monster that terrorised the Cretaceous. It's neat to find one, but it's not a particularly novel discovery IMO.

Re:prolly a fake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17324554)

It also goes against environmental alarmists who claimed developmental problems in amphibians have much to do with..... the damned White Man and his polluting factories.

"Women, minorities, and amphibians hit hardest..."

Bifurcations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17322284)

I wonder if it also has a saddle node bifurcation. You know, because it likes to live under the blue sky.

I totally believe it (4, Insightful)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322302)

Especially after seeing the photo of a sketch of some cartoon character at the story.

Re:I totally believe it (1)

jomama717 (779243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322710)

As far as genetic mutations go, the sketch could be worse [southparkstudios.com] .

Re:I totally believe it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17324532)

There's a much better photograph of the actual specimen [bbc.co.uk] , rather than a cartoon reconstruction, at the BBC.

But not as weird as this: (2, Informative)

Fengpost (907072) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322304)

The 2 headed reptile does not even hold a candle to this 7 legged deer!!! http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,236483,00.html [foxnews.com] More pictures: http://www.mdwfp.com/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=245 89 [mdwfp.com]

Re:But not as weird as this: (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322782)

The 2 headed reptile does not even hold a candle to this 7 legged deer!!!

I remember a story about a guy who was found to have the dead embryo of his identical twin brother inside his body. Looks like the twin got too close to him in early development and developed for a while inside his body. I wonder if this is a similar case. Perhaps there is another deer inside this deer.

Pollution in China (1, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322328)

We've seen two-headed animals [youtube.com] from China before. Apparently the pollution there is getting so bad it's going back in time!

that is some fucked up footage (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17322516)

see topic

Latin name? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17322334)

I don't know what Latin name they're going to give this two-headed creature, but it seems like they should try to squeeze "zaphod" in there somewhere.

Re:Latin name? (5, Informative)

aeschenkarnos (517917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322374)

Things only get Latin names if they're new species. This is a malformation that afflicts an individual member of a species that may or may not already be known. It certainly deserves an individual name (like the Australopithecus "Lucy"), and Zaphod is a good choice.

Re:Latin name? (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322638)

Things only get Latin names if they're new species. It certainly deserves an individual name (like the Australopithecus "Lucy")
How about Claudius?
 

Re:Latin name? (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322758)

And even then, they're not always "Latin" names; specific epiphets are rarely latin (often Greek, often "latinised" names). Genera, families, classes etc... none of them have to be Latin.

Re:Latin name? (1)

Viraptor (898832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323090)

Mod parent funny, damn it!
It deserves Zaphod's name! They both do... (tagged: zaphod)

Anyway - what are the chances, that it fell from sky, when the improbability shields weren't up?

Two-headed Reptile... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322402)

So someone found the American Communist Party buried in China?! Jimmy Hoffa and Elvis are bound to show up next!

Two headed reptile fossil in China? (5, Funny)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322444)

So that's where Karl Rove went!

beeb article and questions (5, Informative)

gsn (989808) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322462)

The beebs article has slightly more details and a picture of the actual fossil and a two headed snake.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6195345.stm [bbc.co.uk]

I'm not a biologist so does anyone know if the second head is fully functional? I'd have thought there'd be serious blood flow issues and it'd be unlikely for these animals to live very long but the snake at the bottom of the article doesn't look young. Does it act as a redundant system used only if the primary one fails or do they actually process stimuli from both heads? What happens if the stimuli are conflicting? Can someone point me towards anything on decesion making in these creatures or are they just not enough to study this. The beeb article says something vague about the condition being due to damage to the embryo possibly. What sort of damage? and how accepted is this?

Re:beeb article and questions (2, Interesting)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322728)

Does it act as a redundant system used only if the primary one fails or do they actually process stimuli from both heads?

As far as I know, animals don't work that way - all "redundant" systems are always active, they just have enough "capacity" to pick up the slack if one part fails.

I seem to recall and article about a two-headed turtle. The dude who owned it said that it generally seemed to get around ok; though sometimes the heads would fight over food and such. But then it's a turtle, they aren't exactly known for their active life-style. From the way they talked about it, it did seem to be "two turtles with one body", rather than "a turtle with two heads" kind of thing; which is probably why you never see this in anything more advanced than reptiles.

The embryo "damage" is the same thing that causes conjoined twins - these guys are conjoined at the body. I am not sure what you mean by "accepted", these things happen, there's not much to accept (unless of course god is testing our faith again).

Polycephaly in NON-reptiles (3, Interesting)

DrYak (748999) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323528)

which is probably why you never see this in anything more advanced than reptiles


You DO [wikipedia.org] see polycephaly in things more advanced than reptiles, although it's less frequent.

(And a greater part of the organism is redundant in mammals that survive, as in the above Siamese twins).

Re:beeb article and questions (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322730)

Back in the mid '50s the San Diego Zoo had a two-headed snake. I remember seeing it there at different visits over a several-year period. I don't know when it died, or how long it lived, but it did live for several years that I can remember. How long it would have lived in the wild is another question, and one I can't answer.

Obligatory (3, Funny)

Sneakernets (1026296) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322570)

I, for one, welcome our ancient dual-core overlords.

Re:Obligatory (2, Funny)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322618)

AMD or Pentium?

Re:Obligatory (1)

funfail (970288) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322938)

Pentium means five (penta) heads.

Re:Obligatory (1)

CountBrass (590228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322992)

Uhm no Pentium does not mean "5 heads" it's an Intel trademark derived from Penta (because courts ruled you couldn't trademark a number e.g. 586). No mention of heads.

And the lesson is: if you're going to be a pedant expect the same treatment back. Oh and the gp was making a joke.

Re:Obligatory (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323730)

Except it comes out as 4.99999999997

Not as unusual as a 2-headed girl seen on T.V. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17322606)

I saw a 2-header girl on the T.V. They have two heart/lung systems and two arms/legs, and TWO HEADS. Have you seen the Ray Milan / Rosie Greer movie, of a white racist's head implanted on a black guy's body (with two heads now)? They were just like that. A marvel of genetic engineering? Two heads are better than one? I firmly believe that is not true.

Were the heads... (0, Flamebait)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322640)

Were the heads named "Gates" and "Ballmer"? Just asking... it seems appropriate.

Developmental Flaw? (4, Interesting)

rhkenji (1021591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322676)

Why is it when something is out of the ordinary, its a flaw? axial bifurcation ('two-headedness') (a well-known developmental flaw among reptile species today such as turtles and snakes).. Every species on earth has a flaw that helps it survive in its environment. As far as I can see, Two Heads are the same as having two hands. Its not a flaw, its a step in evolution. When we see something like 6 fingers in a human, we think its a flaw. Why do we think that these defects are flaw not as step to human evolution? I see no flaw but evolution.

Re:Developmental Flaw? (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322732)

I agree.. I have this feeling the story submitter believed it was either not a flaw (that would have been news!) or that the flaw is less common than it is. This just goes to show that the flaw happened in the past as well as now, which I don't think many really doubted or anything either.

Re:Developmental Flaw? (2, Insightful)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322870)

When we see something like 6 fingers in a human, we think its a flaw. Why do we think that these defects are flaw not as step to human evolution?

You are right on the mark. Deciding what is a 'flaw' is a cultural decision, a matter of opinion. There is no objective truth here. Is short stature a 'flaw' in Pygmies? Perhaps the Pygmies think otherwise; perhaps we all might think otherwise if tomorrow some predator existed that attacked only tall people and virtually wiped them all out, or a food source appeared which was much easier to find for short people. Even attempts to 'prove' something is a 'flaw' biologically is doomed to fail - if Pygmies are short because they have less growth hormone, who can say what is the "normal" amount of that hormone? All we can say is that a certain amount of it is "statistically normal" in that it is commonplace, and certain other amounts are less-often seen.

Calling something a 'flaw' is a value judgment. Value judgments are opinions, points of view. Not to get all postmodern - not everything is "just a point of view" - e.g. Pygmies ARE short. The interpretation of that fact is, however, just an opinion.

Re:Developmental Flaw? (1)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323456)

Pygmies ARE short.

Pygmies are NOT short, they are regular. For a fuller understanding of this phenomenon, go to a McDonald's and order a small drink.

Re:Developmental Flaw? (2)

funfail (970288) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322930)

It is not evolution, it is a mutation. In order to call a mutation evolution, the mutation should be beneficial such that the creature can evade its predators better, breed better etc. Two headedness do not seem to possess evolutionary features as although the mutation exists in a million years, we apparently still don't see an increasing number of two headed reptiles. That leads us to the conclusion that single headed reptiles has an advantage over two headed reptiles, therefore evolution favors single headedness.

Re:Developmental Flaw? (2, Insightful)

Bottlemaster (449635) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322966)

Why is it when something is out of the ordinary, its a flaw?
Well, the fact that there isn't a species (that I know of) of animal that consistantly has multiple heads, I'm going to assume that this phenomenon is detrimental. Nature has allowed a lot of strange things to survive and perpetuate, but it hasn't encourage multiple-headed animals. So it probably is a flaw.

That said, I do see your reasoning. I see this all the time in psychology and whatnot. Anything that hinders a person's ability to function in society, like ADHD, depresson, etc., is considered a disorder. I, personally, don't think it's disorderly that a human (an animal!) has trouble dealing with the silly societal structures we've created. In fact, it looks like pretty normal behavior to me. It disgusts me that supposed professionals "treat" people with drugs when society, and not the person, is faulty. That's how I see it, anyway.

If we perceive a person's condition as bad, it is just as likely to be the fault of our standards as it is to be an actual flaw in the person.

Re:Developmental Flaw? (4, Insightful)

McWilde (643703) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323096)

It's probably called a flaw because the development of the extra head isn't determined by the creature's genes. It's a trait that can't be passed to its offspring, so it has no part in evolution.

Re:Developmental Flaw? (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323920)

It could be a flaw, or it could be an advantage. Just because it's different or abnormal doesn't mean that it is a flaw -- it makes sense to reserve judgement and see how well the difference confers evolutionary advantages. Since the vast majority of animals seem to get by with a single head, it suggests strongly that two heads are not better than one. But the reasons why are likely to be interesting and merit study.

As far as potential reasons, I can think of several likely reasons.

  • It could be that devoting the energy to developing and sustaining a redundant head does not yield as great an advantage of other redudnant organs. We have two kidneys, two lungs, two eyes, two ears, two hands, etc. and can still funtion adequately enough to survive for a long time if one of them fails. Yet we only have a single heart, and a single brain, and a single liver, and so forth. Perhaps the energy devoted to growing that second head is better applied to growing a more robust body.
  • It could be that if one brain dies, the organism will die soon after, even with a second viable brain. In that case, rather than reducing risk through redundant systems, the risk is actually doubled, giving a two-headed creature an evolutionary disadvantage. With other redundant organ systems, often the failure of one organ simply means a reduction in funtion and the body can survive at diminished capacities. But perhaps this is not so with a bi-brained organism.
  • Dominance conflicts resulting in fatal indecision-- if there are two brains, both must vie for control over the organism's body. Quick-decision making in survival situations might be impeded if the two brains must contest for control over the body, leading to the organism failing to survive situations where a quick, unilateral, singleminded decision is called for.

Re:Developmental Flaw? (2, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323958)

As far as I can see, Two Heads are the same as having two hands. Its not a flaw, its a step in evolution.

I saw in an article about a two-headed snake that 1 of 10,000 snakes have that flaw and that they usually don't live long mainly because they got trouble eating. Please next time don't claim with so much confidence such a thing as "it's not a flaw but a step in evolution" when it couldn't be a step in evolution since two headed reptiles hardly can make it to reproduction. It's not about deciding whether it's a flaw or an evolutionary feature because it's objectively a flaw, for a reptile to have two heads leads to a premature death and doesn't in any way help surviving in the environment.

And to correct your bad six-finger analogy you might rather want to compare that to trisomy-21 or mucoviscidosis. When you see kids dying when they're 20 because of some "flaw" in their lungs do you still think it's an evolutionary step? People get modded up over some bullshit these days..

Re:Developmental Flaw? (1)

James McP (3700) | more than 7 years ago | (#17324726)

Actually, it is a step in evolution. Though it might be categorized more accurately as a mis-step. If, and I stress the 'if', it turned out that 2 heads were better at detecting danger, gathering food, or finding a mate, then animals who had a genetic propensity for embryonic twins comingling or developing two heads would prosper and become common.

Since it hasn't worked, it obviously is not a beneficial mutation. However given the relative commonness of this significant developmental deviation, it must be an *easy* thing to trigger and thus it keeps happening.

As far as six fingers goes, it could be a beneficial mutation. Or might not. Heck, it could have been a beneficial mutation as recently as a few thousand years ago but due to cultural norms now be a flaw despite significant advantage that would have been gained in a hunter-gatherer environment.

I don't mind the personification of evolution as "Mother Nature" but only if people realize that Mother Nature is a deaf-mute who randomly makes small changes to her creations with no forethought or malice. If it works, it works but if not, hey, there's a lot of other critters out there and even if most of them get wiped out she can probably rework the whole plaent in a couple of million years.

Sounds like grandma... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17322692)

Two-headed reptile. 160 million years old.

Yup, that's her.

Just two heads? (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322724)

Look buddy, if it didn't have three heads and a Heart of Gold, it's not newsworthy!

- RG>

Dangerous (1)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322752)

I think some people may begin to make their own conclusions about that discovery and some will try to find a place for the creature in the evolution scale. But this is dangerous. There are freaks in any species. There have been 2 headed humans as well. Imagine if life in the Earth ends, and some ET, after millions of years, happens to find on Earth the rests of such a missformed human been and makes the conclussion that there was a variety of life in the Earth which lived with 2 heads....

Re:Dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17322850)

Dangerous indeed. I mean, the last thing we want, after our species has been long extinct (or at any time, really), is to have aliens come to Earth, and think it was home to a species of 2-headed humans. That would be a worst case scenario.

You fucking stupid, RETARDED CLOWN...

pfft... (2, Insightful)

revery (456516) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322770)

Axial bifurcation is nothing special. But axial trifurcation, on a dog, well that's called a Hades special [wikipedia.org] ... and yeah, Orthrus [wikipedia.org] is totally jealous.

P.S. Also, don't mention his little brother Chimi. That dog will bite you...

Re:pfft... (1)

Incadenza (560402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323590)

But axial trifurcation, on a dog, well that's called a Hades special
I just knew this record cover [discogs.com] wasn't photoshopped.

This just in.... (1)

Meltir (891449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322774)

next to the fossil, the researchers just found the burned remains of a small humanoid creature, and a golden ring....
The scientists continue to fight over who gets to keep The precioussssss (Ring).

minUs 3, Troll) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17322814)

the goodwill Who sell another move 7orward, downward spiral. In are just way over DISCUSSIONSl ON Of events today, came as a complete

News flash in 2106 - Humans had two heads (1)

nicc777 (614519) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322824)

Today scientists discovered remains of humans, believed to live 10 billion years ago, with two heads...

Seriously - unless the fact that siamese twins existed today was well documented, how else would scientists know hundreds of years from now how Humans looked like, and more importantly, how would they know that twin headed babies had actually nothing to do with evolution?

I expect all animal species to have similar flukes - I have personally seen it in chickens and cows. The problem is that in ancient times, these occurrences were not always well documented.

This does not IMHO proof anything except that there was a creature like this at some stage of our history.

Re:News flash in 2106 - Humans had two heads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17323230)

But that's exactly the point. They're not claiming this is a new species or anything, but it's important from an evo-devo [wikipedia.org] point of view to know that the same kind of developmental errors could occur millions of years ago. Preservation of developmental processes is an important aspect of evolutionary theory - and this proves the similarity of failure modes.

Not to be outdone ... (2, Funny)

NoMaster (142776) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323024)

Not to be outdone, Japanese scientists have discovered a three-headed monster [wikipedia.org] with two legs, bat-like wings, and two tails.

Tokyo residents are fearfully awaiting the appearance of a giant moth and two tiny priestesses...

I, for one, (0, Redundant)

skibaa (995295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323238)

welcome our two-headed overlords!

...so Noah had to had more food onboard... (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323244)

...to feed these two headed creatures, that is.

In Soviet Russia... (1, Funny)

WetCat (558132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323316)

In Soviet Russia the coat of arms [wikipedia.org] founds YOU!

Buridan's Dinosaur (1)

thorsday (994051) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323510)

Science Headline 2008: Evidence Indicates Saurian Extinction Caused By Recessive Bicephallic Gene
Can you imagine what downtown New York at rush hour would be like if a large fraction of the population had two heads!!!

Re:Buridan's Dinosaur (2, Interesting)

KingNaught (718536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17324154)

You don't have to imagine just look here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abigail_and_Brittany_ Hensel [wikipedia.org] just saw them on TV last night their 16 now and pretty healthy except for some back problems. Their not monsterous looking in fact their fairly cute looking girl(s)

two-head tax (1)

extern_void (1041264) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323640)

Darwin's natural selection is amazing. It just had finished with two-head-animals before the XX century. Maybe some politician would have the smart idea of taxing two-head-ppl in double.

Better photograph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17323782)

Of the fossil at this BBC article [bbc.co.uk] .

And Right Next To It (1)

drewsup (990717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323924)

An ancient sign that says "Come See Cronks 2 Headed Pet, Only 3 Eggs and a Shiny Rock To Get In"

And lying right next to it... (1)

jridley (9305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17324104)

Two headed fossil found!!!
Amazingly, right next to this was another amazing find, a similar species with two tails!

So what does this mean to me? (2, Funny)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17324324)

There have been retarded turtles roaming the earth for 150 million years now. God speed, retarded little turtles....God speed.

Re:So what does this mean to me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17324440)

Shows what you know... they're dual processor turtles. Almost twice the computing capacity...

Getting Closer (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17324386)

We're getting closer to answering the age old question, Have two heads, always, been better than one ?

A perfect new GOP Mascot! (1)

Quarters (18322) | more than 7 years ago | (#17324702)

Given that Intelligent Design is the one-true-truth to the 'Pubs and the fact that they're busy talking out of both sides of their mouths about their original goals and plans for the Iraq war I propose we replace their mascot with this lizard.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?