Scientists were “totally astounded” when they discovered the wonderfully preserved corpses of dead conjoined twin bats under a tree in Brazil.
The bats were found under a tree in Brazil. (Credit: Marcelo R. Nogueira: Laboratório de Ciências Ambientais)
It is only the third recorded case of conjoined bats (Credit: Nadja L. Pinheiro, from Área de Embriologia, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro)
It is just the third occurrence of conjoined bats that has been documented, and experts are now analyzing their remains to learn more about the phenomenon.
When the bats were discovered under a mango tree in the country’s south-east, they were thought to be stillborn and still had the placenta attached.
Marcelo Nogueira, from the State University of Northern Rio de Janeiro, said: “We believe the mother of these twins was roosting in this tree when she gave birth.
“It is our hope that cases like this will encourage more studies on bat embryology, an open and fascinating field of research that can largely benefit from material already available in scientific collections.”
Conjoined animals are poorly understood, and only one in every 200,000 human births involves conjoined twins.
Human survival rates are roughly 15%, but animal survival rates are estimated to be substantially lower.
X-rays show the bats have separate heads and hearts but a converged spine (Credit: Laboratório de Radiografias, Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro)
Their total wingspan measures around 13cm (Credit: Nadja L. Pinheiro, from Área de Embriologia, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro)
Male bats have separate heads and necks, but their spines eventually blend into one, according to an X-ray.
They also have two separate but similar size hearts.
The twins’ entire width, including wingspan, is approximately 13cm.
Based on their physical characteristics the scientists determined they were most likely ‘Artibeus’ bats.