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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Genetics,environment and 2-faced births in animals.

A calf with four eyes, two noses and two mouths. Her middle two eyes share a socket. The calf dubbed lucky by owner is believed to be a blessing and the family is doing all to make lucky comfortable. Two-faced births don’t happen only to cattle,as seen in the case of Frank and Louie (also known as FrankenLouie) which was what is called a diprosopus or craniofacial duplication, also known as being a “Janus cat” — a two-faced cat. Janus was a Greek god with two faces, because he was considered to look both to the future and the past. Most Janus cats don’t survive for long. But Frank and Louie lived for 15 years. The Massachusetts cat behaved more like a dog than a cat, according to its owner, and walked on a leash and loved car rides. Darrh Bullock, an extension professor in the department of animal and food sciences at the University of Kentucky, said that calves like Lucky are “extremely rare. He said that Lucky’s two heads are not necessarily a genetic effect, but could have been caused by environmental influences such as hormonal imbalances or some sort of chemical that happened to get into the mother during the developmental stage of the fetus. The 2 headed calf is a result of splitting of the embryo that just doesn’t go very far,as fully splitting the embryo would wind up as identical twins. Jonathan Beever, a professor of genetics, genomics and bioinformatics at the University of Illinois, recently worked on a project, primarily with Angus cattle, on “developmental duplications.” Such duplications appear to be an inherited recessive genetic condition. Beever said a calf in Iowa was born with two heads and lived 16-18 months until it was sent to market.“Even with that condition he was viable,” Beever said. “There are 25,000 different genes that control how an animal develops,” Beever said. “When one of them gets disrupted, that allows things to happen that aren’t normally supposed to happen.” Beever said that Lucky is probably not one of those mutations, “but it gives us insight that something happened during that developmental time period, probably day 18 to 25, during pregnancy and the body decided to develop like that.” excerpts