Snakes: Nebraska man discovers rare two-headed snake – one in 100,000 mutation | Science | New


The unusual reptile was found in the town of Clay Center by Joshua Marshall, 45, who said: ‘I was clearing brush at a fire pit. I went to move a log and it was underneath. My first reaction was that I thought it was two snakes. Then, when he couldn’t decide which way to go, I realized it was a two-headed snake. The snake looked perfectly normal beyond the two heads. I have no idea how the mutation happened.

Mr Marshall collected the snake – which was a species of garter snake, native to the area – and placed it in a jar to show it to an expert.

The herpetologist in question, a professor Dennis Ferraro from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, pointed out how rare the two-headed mutant was.

He said, “For gartersnakes, it’s about one in 100,000.”

The rare creature was lucky to have survived in the wild, he said.

The second head, Professor Ferraro said, is “usually caused by a genetic mutation or an erroneous code during embryonic development”.

“In this case, it looks like it may have started as a split egg – twins – that stopped dividing halfway through,” he said.

“Unless one head quickly becomes dominant and the other head just follows it, it will likely die because it won’t be able to hunt or avoid predators.”

It is thought that the snake found by Mr Marshall was probably only seven to ten days old.

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Encountering such a mutant snake was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, even for a seasoned outdoorsman like Mr. Marshall.

He said: “Look back, it was very good.

“I do a lot of things outdoors and to see something different and out of the ordinary is really cool.”

He concluded, “With the attention he’s garnered, I’d say there’s a lot of people out there who feel the same way!”

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