Two headed 'dragon' fossil in the news

Scientists have uncovered a fossilized lizard in China with 2 heads, courtesy of New Scientist.

A remarkably well-preserved fossil of a two-headed reptile has been discovered in the Early Cretaceous Yixian rock formation in northeast China.

The tiny skeleton of a hatchling choristodere – a group of extinct aquatic reptiles with long necks – has two heads and two necks, fused at their base. The 120-million-year-old specimen is thought to be the oldest example of a developmental anomaly known as axial bifurcation.

While rare, this type of malformation has been seen before in living snakes, crocodiles, lizards and turtles – some of which have survived for several years in captivity.

However, judging from the extreme juvenility of the fossilised skeleton – its proportionally large head and eye orbits – the tiny creature did not survive for long, say its finders Eric Buffetaut at National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris, France, and colleagues.

As an adult, the reptile could measure up to 1 meter in length, though this hatchling is no more than 70 mm in length.

This reminds me of the two-headed calf I saw in North Dakota once. It was deceased, but this wonder of nature was visited by a taxidermist who turned it into a curio for visitors.

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