A striking, two-faced calf has become a bit of a local star the small town of Campbellsville, Kentucky. Lucky has now managed to survive nearly 50 days, despite a developmental abnormality that causes most animals to die before birth.
Polycephaly, the phenomenon of having more than one head, is extremely rare but widespread throughout the animal kingdom, with famous examples of sharks, turtles, cats, and even humans who share the condition. Its underlying causes are not well understood, but recent research has pointed to various potential mechanisms, including abnormal expression of developmental genes and incomplete splitting of fertilised eggs.
Whatever the cause, animals with polycephaly normally do not survive more than a few days — although there have been notable exceptions, like “Frank and Louie,” the two-faced cat that lived to be at least 12 years old.
Lucky, born on 16th September on the farm of Stan and Brandy McCubbin, seems to be earning her place in the history books, too. By late October, the two-faced cow calf had survived 42 days, besting the previous record of 40 days for a calf with her condition, according to Cater News. (Gizmodo is still trying to verify this record. Do you know of a two-faced cow calf that lived longer? Please, share a photo in the comments!)
According to WDRB News, the middle of Lucky’s four eyes don’t blink or function. She has some balance issues. When one of her mouths moves, so does the other. She can eat just fine, but needs “a little extra help” sometimes.
The McCubbins don’t how long Lucky has, but they have reportedly come to “treat it like their baby” and are committed to keeping the calf alive and comfortable as long as they can. She’s had a lot of visitors, and even found her way onto Facebook. [Cater News via National Geographic]