When Two Heads Aren’t Better Than One

On the plus side, he's always got someone to talk to.
On the plus side, he's always got someone to talk to.
The Apocalypse has come and gone over 200 times already and I bet you missed it. In case you want to get your party planning in order, the world will end … again … on October, 21, 2011. The Judgement Day countdown begins on May 21, 2011, so make sure to be on your best behavior. The nice thing about this impending Apocalypse is that it will allow us to get this whole ‘end of the world’ business out of the way before the one in 2012. That’ll show those silly Mayans. Clear signs of impending doom can easily be found in stories of cats being called for jury duty and the great Tasmanian Devil die off. While, to the layman, the two would seem unrelated, they are contained in the same story. So, obviously, there must be something there.

There are also alternate predictions based on something called the Bible Code. This is a code allegedly hidden in the original Hebrew text of the Old Testament. The problem, unfortunately, is that the same mathematical permutations that found this code can also find codes in Moby Dick, War and Peace and pretty much any other book that contains those funny word thingies.

In other words we need a clearer precursor of doom.

Fortunately for us, even before Zaphod Beeblebrox grew, or regrew, his third arm (as the case may be), people have been freaked out by the whimsies of nature. They see omens and portents in any creature born which does not fit neatly on their grid.

Well here we are, rounding out the month named in honor of Janus (the two headed god of ancient Rome), and we are seeing a severe uptick in the number of two headed animals being born. Mark Hartzman at AOL News wonders if it could be a coincidence.

Or is it a sign of the end times?

January has been a busy month for two-headed animals. But then, maybe it’s supposed to be — after all, the month is named after the two-headed Roman god, Janus.

Earlier this week, January saw its third two-headed calf born in an Armenian village. It’s currently being fed artificially and according to local veterinarians, it has characteristics of both sexes.

Last week, a second two-headed calf was born on a farm in the eastern region of Colombia.

According to reports, owner Ramon Torres said the calf came out legs first and appeared normal until the baby’s two distinct heads got stuck inside. A vet was forced to cut open the cow to safely deliver the calf, which unfortunately led to the mother’s death.

The two-headed creature didn’t last much longer. The owner claimed to have “sacrificed” the animal.

“I almost cried,” said Todd Ray, who has 22 live two-headed animals on display at his Venice Beach Freakshow. “You rarely see a cow born with two heads separate like that. They killed probably the rarest animal alive. It had a stout look — that animal would’ve made it. I would’ve bought that man a house for that cow.”

The month’s first two-headed calf was born on Jan. 2 in the Republic of Georgia and made headlines around the world. Both heads have been accepting milk fed from a bottle.

Days later, a two-headed, seven-legged camel was reportedly discovered in Saudi Arabia. The mother was in labor for two days before a veterinarian delivered it stillborn by cesarean section. Its owner, Hassan Fahmi, said it was the strangest case he’d ever seen in camels.

That same week, in Swink, Colo., a conjoined-twin lamb entered the world. Like the camel, it was delivered by C-section. The baby ewe had a total of eight legs, three eyes, four ears, two tails, one nose and one mouth. It survived for only four minutes.

And though never actually born, last week two two-headed shark embryos were uncovered after being hidden away in a private collection. They’ve been preserved in jars since their discovery off the coast of Argentina back in 1934.

Granted, the two heads that depict Janus represent the past and future — looking back on the previous year and looking ahead to the new one. But might there be something to so many unusual births this month?

According to Leonard Sonnenschein, president of the World Aquarium in St. Louis, two-headed animals aren’t as unusual as one might think.

“There are often two-headed cows, goats, camels, llamas and sheep, but very few are born alive,” he said. “Most that are born alive only live two or three days.”

January might see a greater share of those births than other months.

“Being that spring is the birthing time for many ungulates, I don’t find it odd that two-headed stillborn ungulates are more likely to be prematurely delivered due to the fact that they are at risk and therefore mothers generally do not carry them full term,” Sonnenschein told AOL News.

Sonnenschein’s aquarium has cared for numerous double-headed creatures over the years. In 2006 it boasted 11 living twin-headed animals. Currently it has three, plus “We” — a preserved two-headed rat snake that resided there for eight years.

We has been succeeded by a live 4-foot-long, two-headed carpet python named Us. It’s joined by a two-headed, eight-legged red-eared slider turtle and a two-headed musk turtle. The noggins on the latter are a perfect 180 degrees from each other, reminiscent of the Pushmi-pullyu from “Dr. Dolittle.”

I know, I know, you want to book a slumber party at the Venice Beach Freak Show. Well, click the link and have at it. They accept reservations.

The good news is that, in Ephesians 3:21, we were promised a “World without end.” The bad news is that nowhere in there did they promise there’d be any people on it.

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