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Fisherman Catches Two-Head Bull Shark Off Coast of Florida

Update Date: Mar 26, 2013 08:02 PM EDT

What could be scarier than a shark? How about a two-headed bull shark, and that's exactly what a fisherman found when he caught the shark off the Florida Keys, according to reports.

The fisherman kept the odd specimen, and shared it with scientists, who described it in a study published online Monday, March 25, in the Journal of Fish Biology. An MRI of the specimen "revealed two distinct heads, hearts and stomachs with the remainder of the body joining together in back half of the animal to form a single tail."

 It's one of the very few examples of a two-headed shark ever recorded - there about six instances in published reports - and the first time this has been seen in a bull shark, said Michael Wagner, a study co-author and researcher at Michigan State University.

The scientists were quick to address speculation that such a mutation arose from the enormous oil spill which devastated parts of the Gulf in April 2010. "Given the timing of the shark's discovery with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, I could see how some people may want to jump to conclusions," said one of the scientists. "Making that leap is unwarranted. We simply have no evidence to support that cause or any other."

The shark had little chance of surviving after birth regardless of its mother being caught, according to Michael Wagner. He said: "You'll see many more cases of two-headed lizards and snakes. That's because those organisms are often bred in captivity, and the breeders are more likely to observe the anomalies."

Wagner noted that further analysis of the two-headed shark may someday help better understand how these deformities arise in sharks and other animals.

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