Two Lizards with One Body, or One Lizard With Two Heads?


This takes the meaning of “two for one” to a whole new level! I imagine that the first person to have witnessed this spectacle had to take a double and a triple look, before the full realization sank in. It was most likely after asking “Is it one or two?” a million times beforehand. It really is hard to know whether to say “this one,” or “these guys.”

It’s extremely rare, but when animals are born this way they are considered one animal with two heads; and partial bodies in this case. The scientific term is used to describe humans and animals who had the misfortune of being born with more than one head. It’s known as polycephaly.

There’s always the debate over whether they should be classified as a single or a double entity. Are they one individual with multiple body parts or two minds with one body? As if life isn’t confusing enough already! We all have moments when we’re at odds with ourselves, the bicephalic ones are unsure whether they’re at odds with themselves or a sibling. Maybe even both, simultaneously.


Polycephaly is formed in much the same way as identical twins are formed. It starts with one fertilized egg that decides it really wants to be two. Most of the time, the egg finishes dividing and the parent is graced with two identical looking young ones. In very rare cases, the egg only partially splits; resulting in conjoinment. In cases of conjoinment there may be shared control of organs and even limbs.

Whether they are one or two tends to depend on how they function and which vital organs are shared. Sometimes both heads work together as one. This video shows a small example of that, while they simultaneously snatch up woodlice. Does that mean that their brains function as one? There have also been instances when the two are agressive towards each other (or themselves, depending on how you look at it.)

So what is it that gives someone, or something, their individualism? Is it having a beating heart? Are our brains what makes us tick? Maybe it’s something deeper. What do you think?

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Julie Antonson

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