A two-headed turtle with six legs is fascinating boffins after it is still “doing well” nearly two weeks after its birth.
The diamondback terrapin is a rare enough animal as it is – but a genetic anomaly on this particular birth has made the creature even more interesting.
Fascinatingly, its heads work separately to come to the surface to breathe, reports USA Today.
Staff looking after the turtle at the Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center in Massachusetts say it is also feeding well and is enjoying a diet of blood worms and food pellets.
Experts at the New England Wildlife Center say it is "similar to conjoined twins in humans".
They told the Fall River Reporter: "They share parts of their body, but also have some parts that are independent.
"In this case, they have two heads and six legs.
"On admission, both sides were very alert and active and our veterinary team was eager to learn more about them."
The abnormal reptile comes from a species that is threatened in Massachusetts.
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."
The centre is going to continue to monitor the young turtle to make sure they have control of their legs and can coordinate swimming to breathe properly.
After four weeks, it plans to carry out a CT scan to delve deeper into how the reptiles brains really operate.
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