Conjoined Baby Bats Stun Brazilian Scientists

Conjoined Baby Bats Stun Brazilian Scientists

The corpses of rare conjoined bats found under a mango tree in southeastern Brazil 16 years ago have been analysed by “completely astonished” scientists.

This is only the third time the phenomenon has been reported in scientific literature – earlier records of conjoined pairs were published in 1969 and 2015.

The twin male conjoined bats were already dead when they were found in a Brazilian forest in 2001 and donated to the Laboratory of Mastozoology at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Marcelo Rodrigues Nogueira, who led the study of the mammals, explained his shock at the find to Live Science, saying: "I have handled many bats, some with very impressive morphological characters, but none as surprising as these twins."

© Nadja L. Pinheiro, Área de Embriologia, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro

© Nadja L. Pinheiro, Área de Embriologia, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro

© Nadja L. Pinheiro, Área de Embriologia, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro

© Nadja L. Pinheiro, Área de Embriologia, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro

The ‘Siamese’ bats are ‘dicephalic parapagus conjoined twins,’ meaning they are connected side-by-side along their trunks.

The animals had separate heads and necks, but X-rays revealed their spines eventually converged.Ultrasound images showed the bats also had separate but similarly sized hearts.

The placenta was still attached to the pair, leading researchers to surmise they were either stillborn or died at birth. Based on their physical characteristics the scientists determined they were most likely ‘Artibeus’ bats.

The total breadth of the twins, including wingspan, measures about 13cm.

 

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