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Two-Headed Snake Facts and Mythology

Two-headed snakes appear ass a rare but recurring biological curiosity, in most species of snake. These real animals may have incpired their many counterparts in myth and legend.

Real Two-Headed Snakes

These are snakes with two heads, and sometimes short necks before attaching to a shared body. However x-rays show that even when the snake is externally divided at or very near the head, each head has a separate stomach.

Synomyms: axial bifurcation, dicephalism, somatodichotomy

Reviews

Heasman (1933) collected over 70 reports of double-headed snakes. Wallach (2007) collected n astounded 950 cases.

Causes

Two-headed snakes are most commonly cue by single embryo that has divided incompletely. Suggested causal factors include extremes of temperature, low oxygen, toxins or inbreeding.

Mythological Examples

Amphisbaena

In 671BC poetry described the amphisbaena as a dangerous two-headed snake to be found in Egypt. It's bite was said to cause blindness and death.

Other Examples

Examples of two-headed snakes in other mythologies are to numerous to discuss in depth. The include in Chinese mythology Wei-t'o, Inkanyamba in Zulu stories and in native American mythology a snake known as Ka'toya.

Symbolism

Unproductive Internal Conflict: The two-headed snake is often used as a symbol of people that are divided into factions, such as liberal versus conservative politics in the United States. Th implication is that, with two heads, the snake cannot agree on a plan and make progress,

War: A vision of a two-headed snake was considered an omen of war in ancient Egypt.

References

  • West, Stephanie. "The Amphisbaena's antecedents." The Classical Quarterly (New Series) 56.01 (2006): 290-291.
  • Heasman, W. J. "The anatomy of a double-headed snake." Journal of anatomy 67.Pt 2 (1933): 331.
  • Jencks, C. (2007). Why Critical Modernism?. Architectural Design, 77(5), 140-145.
  • Kostuch, L. (2009). Cleopatra′ s Snake or Octavian′ s? The Role of the Cobra in the triumph over the Egyptian Queen. Klio, 91(1), 115-124.
  • 'Niimi, Toshi. "Additional report on the dichotomous snakes." 爬蟲兩棲類學雑誌 4.1-4 (1971): 5-11.
  • Wallach, Van. "Axial bifurcation and duplication in snakes. Part I. A synopsis of authentic and anecdotal cases." Bulletin of the Maryland Herpetological Society 43.57 (2007): e95.
  • West, Stephanie. "The Amphisbaena's antecedents." The Classical Quarterly (New Series) 56.01 (2006): 290-291.

Comments

Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on November 02, 2018:

I suppose a two-headed snake is basically conjoined twins. Imagine not knowing much about the world thousands of years ago and then coming across a snake which is not only dangerous but also has two sets of teeth instead of one! No wonder these made it into mythology. They are quite frightening-looking, even if there is a scientific explanation for their existence.

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