Rare Conjoined Fawns Have Scientists Doing A Double Take

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Oh, deer.

A Minnesota man looking for mushrooms ended up discovering something incredible: conjoined fawns.

The man found the stillborn fawns in May 2016 near Freeburg, Minnesota, about a mile from the Mississippi River.

The animals appeared to be recently deceased and were clean and dry, according to Gino D’Angelo, a University of Georgia researcher who studied the deer.

He said he believes the two-headed animal is the first pair of conjoined fawns reach full term and then be delivered by their mother, according to a University of Georgia press release.

Since the only other examples of conjoined fawns have been found in utero, these stillborn twins are a scientific marvel.

“It’s amazing and extremely rare,” D’Angelo said in the release. “We can’t even estimate the rarity of this. Of the tens of millions of fawns born annually in the U.S., there are probably abnormalities happening in the wild we don’t even know about.”

When researchers at the University of Minnesota’s veterinary diagnostic laboratory conducted a necropsy and MRI and CT scans of the body, they discovered the female fawns had one body but two separate necks and two heads.

When the animals’ lungs were placed in water, they sank straight to the bottom ― confirming that the fawns never breathed air and were stillborn. 

Other anatomical abnormalities include two separate gastrointestinal tracts (but only one connected all the way to the anus), two hearts and extra spleens but only one liver, which was malformed, according to ScienceAlert.com.

“Their anatomy indicates the fawns would never have been viable,” D’Angelo said in the release. “Yet, they were found groomed and in a natural position, suggesting that the doe tried to care for them after delivery. The maternal instinct is very strong.”

D’Angelo co-authored a study describing the find in The American Midland Naturalist.

Taxidermists have mounted the conjoined fawns on a bed of greenery and made them look as if they are waking from a nap.

That mount will be put on display at the offices for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and a skeletal recreation will be displayed at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Anatomy Museum in Minneapolis, according to local station KMSP TV.





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