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Gross out?

Meet Indy, a boa constrictor with two noggins. She was born last July, along with 27 single-minded siblings. While Indy's not the first two-headed snake, scientists believe she's the world's only two-headed boa.

"This is the only two-headed boa I've ever seen," says Frank Indiviglio, a Bronx Zoo herpetologist (reptile scientist), and he has studied plenty of snakes.

"Indy is like a normal boa with a growth along its neck--that growth just happens to be a head," says owner Robert Shapiro, who runs an animal rescue facility in New York City. While Indy's main head functions normally, the second one can't eat, drink, or breathe. But oddly, ii can open its mouth to flick out its tongue.

Unlike most snakes, which lay eggs, boa constrictors give birth to fully developed young. It's unclear why Indy has two heads. But scientists believe most two-headed snakes form in the same manner as conjoined (physically connected) twins. When a single fertilized egg does not fully separate to form identical twins, parts of the body remain connected.

When she's fully grown, Indy could stretch 3.6 m (12 ft) and weigh 32 kg (70 lb). Then, Shapiro plans to sell her to a serious collector to help fund his rescue center. Offers of tens of thousands of dollars have already poured in!
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Title Annotation:Activities & Oddities
Author:Chiang, Mona
Publication:Science World
Date:Nov 17, 2003
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