But the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is quite proud of its new four eyes, a rare Beal’s four-eyed turtle, which recently hatched. Don’t get all panicky, it is not some genetic mutant freak turtle. It only has two actual eyes, but also two white spots on the top of its head that look like another set of eyes.
It is now one of only 18 four-eyers known to be in captivity in the U.S. and Europe. Years ago, the species were fairly common in the wild in China but its population numbers have dropped due to low reproduction rates.
I never knew such a rare turtle existed. But now I’m thinking –- here at the Science Museum of Minnesota, we have a pair of preserved two-headed turtles on display in our collections gallery. Aren’t they the “real” four-eyed turtles?
French and Chinese paleontologists have discovered the tiny fossilized remains of a 150-million-year-old newborn aquatic reptile with two heads. Axial bifurcation, or two-headedness, is a well-known developmental flaw in turtles and snakes today. SMM's collection includes "Emily," a two-headed turtle. (You can see Emily for yourself in the Collections Gallery.)