Seeing this little turtle swimming around in a tank in Hong Kong1 with its two fully-formed heads (sometimes looking in opposite directions, sometimes at each other, each obviously controlled by a different brain) was an astonishing sight.

Seeing it could make one think, “Wow, what a strange mutant…” But is it? Not in the way most people understand the word. ‘Mutant’ means a defective creature resulting from a mutation. A mutation is an accidental change in the genetic code or DNA, which is thus inherited—passed on, generation after generation.

However, two-headed creatures like this turtle are not the result of mutations, but rather are another type of defect which can occur in a fallen world (Genesis 3). The accident does not occur in the code which programs the development of the embryo, but in the process of forming the embryo. In such cases, what happens is that the embryo splits into two, which normally forms twins—but the twins have failed to separate completely.

This two-headed condition is rare, but when it does occur, it is most often in turtles or snakes. (Tragically, it has occurred in humans, though fortunately it is extremely rare.) Each head has its own brain, and yet (in ways that vary from case to case) they share control of the same body and limbs. Such animals often move in confused patterns, reflecting an apparent disagreement between the two ‘controlling entities’….

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