Researchers in Maldives have discovered a rare polycephaly turtle hatchling. 

Polycephaly is scientifically known as a condition of having more than one head. It is derived from the Greek stems poly, meaning "many" and kephalē meaning "head". Scientists regard such polycephalic organisms as one being with a supernumerary body part, or as two or more beings with a shared body.

The finding in Maldives, is a rare one and not often witnessed. The turtle was discovered by Dr. Minnie Liddell, the resident Veterinary Surgeon at the Marine Turtle Rescue Centre at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, Maldives. At the resort, Dr. Minnie is tasked with everything from complicated surgical and medical procedures, to tank maintenance,  in addition to her proactive role in community outreach and guest education programs.

On an Instagram post, the Olive Ridley Project stated that Dr. Minnie was excavating a recent next when the hatchling with the mutation was discovered. The find was enough for the organization to dedicate an entire blog post to it. 

"Sometimes nature doesn’t always get everything right! The ORP team at Coco Palm Dhuni Kohlu recently discovered a green sea turtle hatchling with a very unusual abnormality during a routine excavation of a hatched turtle nest: a two-headed hatchling,"

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Sometimes, nature can get a little weird... This week we have a slightly unusual case to share with you! While excavating a recent nest, Dr Minnie found this very rare hatchling with a mutation, called polycephaly, meaning "multiple heads". It was such a special finding that we wrote a blog post on it! Check out the link below to discover more about this amazing little hatchling and see more pictures, including some x-rays! #seaturtle #turtle #greenseaturtle #greenturtle #hatchling #hatchlings #seaturtleconservation #marineconservation #protectwhatyoulove #nature #twoheadedturtle #polycephaly

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"The hatchling had sadly died within its egg and never hatched, but that didn’t stop it from giving us all a huge surprise. The experience also served as an interesting reminder of the intrigues of the natural world." read the blog post.

The organization stated that Polycephaly is indeed a very rare birth defect and one never before seen during any nest surveys prior to this. The blog post went on to state that there are isolated anecdotal reports of two-headed sea turtle hatchlings; some that had even gone on to hatch.

Despite the sad passing away of the hatchling, it remains an extremely interesting find for the researchers. 

Rare two-headed turtle hatchling discovered in Maldives. (Photo/Olive Ridley Project)

To read the full blog post, click here.

The Olive Ridley Project was founded in 2013 in response to the critical situation of Olive ridley sea turtles in Maldives.

The Project is on a mission to protect sea turtles and their habitats in the Indian Ocean through rescue and rehabilitation of injured sea turtles, research and education, and by actively removing ghost nets from the ocean and working on ways to reuse and reduce ghost gear.

The organization is formed of volunteers and citizen scientists, environmentalists, and Marine Biologists around the Indian Ocean.

The organization opened its Marine Turtle Rescue Centre in February 2017 in partnership with Coco Collection in Baa Atoll, Maldives. The center in Maldives has laboratory and surgical facilities as well as a full-time resident turtle veterinarian and can accommodate up to eight turtle patients at any time.