A look at conjoined twins, because sometimes nature goes wrong, and you just cannot help but look.
They are considered “Freaks” of nature, and were often used in side shows as a form of entertainment. Let us be honest, people like looking at oddities as a way of understanding more about ourselves in an odd sort of way.
We often used the term “Siamese Twins”, as the first well known pair was from an area of the world known as Siam, this area is now we called the area Thailand. The pair were Chang and Eng Bunker, who traveled with the Circus for many years. Although this might seem cruel to us, to exhibit people as “freaks” it was a lucky thing for them as they lived from 1811 to 1874. Surely this was a longer lifespan than they would have had otherwise, as charity and welfare, were almost unheard of, and they were sold as slaves.
The Bunker twins, photo from Wikimedia.
The correct term for the condition is conjoined twins. The most commonly accepted theory is that this occurs when the egg does not divide fully to form two completely separate identical twins. In some cases the bodies are formed equally well, joined by only muscle and skin, in other cases the bodies are not formed well and they may share organs, and bones.
The condition occurs in about 1 in 100000 births, with higher rates in Southwest Asia. Half are still born. In most cases without medical aid they cannot be delivered. Some are so badly deformed they cannot survive outside the womb for more than a few hours, or days. As such only about 1 in 4 sets of conjoined twins will survive. Of those some can be aided and separated though medical intervention.
In some very bizarre cases, one “twin” is considered a parasite on the other. Generally in this case the parasitic twin is limbs only, no head, and would be removed.
This picture is of a Human fetus. Photo from Wikimedia.
The condition is not limited to humans, it is frequently seen in animals as well. Particularly in domestic livestock and pets. Naturally we can assume that any born in the wild would not survive on their own, the mother would probably be unable to deliver them, or would abandon them.
This picture is of a cow fetus with the condition. Photo from Wikimedia.
This picture is of a dog fetus. Photo from Wikimedia.
This picture is of a sheep, presumably it lived for a short time and was stuffed for preservation. Here it has a parasitic twin, legs only, no other head. Although it may look like it was “sewn” together, it was reconstructed to its actual appearance. The taxidermy was poor on the front shoulder. Photo from Wikimedia.
As humans we hold a bizarre fascination with looking at the macabre and the bizarre. We flip through the headlines to find out who died, when, and how. We tell our selves it is wrong to watch a train wreck, though we cannot turn away. Are we understanding our own mortality? Nobody is going to tell you that you are wrong for looking at these pictures, least of all me. We can count ourselves lucky if we are not born with such issues, and yet if we take the time to look at those who have these conditions we puzzle at how they cope, not just physically, but mentally too.
Some do cope surprisingly well, including our friends Chang and Eng Bunker, who married in 1934, and even fathered a total of 23 children between them. Pictured here with their wives and two of their children, photo from Wikimedia.
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