RURAL RETREAT, Virginia – A calf with two faces, born last week at a farm here, has been drawing a crowd.
The calf breathes out of two noses and has two tongues, which move independently, according to farmer Kirk Heldreth. There appears to be a single socket containing two eyes. There are two lower jaws, but only one mouth.
"It's the craziest thing I've ever seen," Heldreth said.
During the calf's birth Dec. 27, Heldreth said he first thought there were two calves.
The calf was the product of artificial insemination, meant for superior breeding. "Genetically, this is one of my better calves," Heldreth said.
Bob James, a professor in the dairy science department at Virginia Tech and Heldreth's former teacher, said such births are unusual.
"In my 25 years, I've seen it maybe two or three times," he said.
James said the abnormality could be caused by a developmental problem or a genetic quirk.
According to MedicineNet.com, the condition is called diprosopus, which happens when twins start to form and do not completely separate. In most cases, the twins are completely fused with one set of limbs, but part or all the face is duplicated.
Heldreth said the calf does not appear to have other physical ailments or complications.
"It's as healthy as can be," he said.