2-headed deer found in Minnesota is unique in known natural history

A mushroom hunter found them near Freeburg in 2016.
Publish date:

A two-headed, baby white-tail deer found in Minnesota two years ago is thought to be the first conjoined deer of its kind to ever make it to term.

The discovery was made by a mushroom hunter in May 2016 near Freeburg, southeast Minnesota, where he came across the recently dead fawns a mile from the Mississippi River.

He called the Minnesota DNR, which at the time employed researcher Gino D'Angelo, who now works at the University of Georgia's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.

D'Angelo has just this week published research into the incredible discovery, which he penned with the aid of the Minnesota DNR's Louis Cornicelli, as well as Christina Clarkson and Arno Wuenschmann, of the University of Minnesota's veterinary department.

What was remarkable about the fawns other than the fact they had two separate necks and heads, but the same body, was that they look to have been groomed by its mother – meaning they made it to term.

Sadly, tests of its lungs confirmed they never breathed the air, so were delivered stillborn. Nonetheless, this was a unique scientific find.

Today's Top Stories

– NEW: You can now follow Bring Me The News on Flipboard

– Stearns County man is knocked unconscious by a steer.

– Wells Fargo accused of endangering family in witness protection.

Conjoined twins are more commonly found in domestic animals, such as cattle and sheep, but are much rarer in wildlife.

As D'Angelo told the University of Georgia, there have only been 19 confirmed instances of conjoined twins in wildlife between 1671 and 2006, only five of which were in the deer family.

Only two of these cases were found in white-tailed deer, but both were fetuses yet to be delivered.

"It’s amazing and extremely rare," D’Angelo said. "We can’t even estimate the rarity of this. Of the tens of millions of fawns born annually in the U.S., there are probably abnormalities happening in the wild we don’t even know about."

Minnesotans will be able to take a look at the fawns at the Minnesota DNR headquarters in St. Paul, while a skeletal display will be put in the University of Minnesota Veterinary Anatomy Museum.

Next Up

police lights

AMBER Alert: Missing 2-year-old found safe

The alert was issued Sunday evening.

Irv Cross

NFL Pro-Bowler, Twin Cities broadcaster Irv Cross dies at 81

Cross was a Pro Bowl cornerback, but his biggest impact was made after his career.


Here's how much snow fell in Minnesota on Sunday

Some localized areas saw more than expected.

Lindsay Guentzel

For The Week: What's harder than making a meal plan? Sticking to it!

Lindsay Guentzel says you shouldn't give up on your meal planning routines.

snow, plow

Winter storm warnings issued as snow system shifts in Minnesota

The worst of the snow will now hit further north, affecting areas including St. Cloud and the I-94 corridor.

Matt Dumba

Matt Dumba beats the clock to give Wild sixth straight win

Dumba scored as overtime came to a close for another Wild victory.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Bradley Beal terrorizes Timberwolves in loss to Wizards

Beal and the Wizards handed the Wolves their seventh straight defeat.

Marcus Carr / Gopher basketball

Gophers tourney hopes take another blow with loss to Nebraska

Marcus Carr scored a career-high 41 points, but Minnesota is still winless on the road.


white-tailed deer

Two special deer hunts will be held in Minnesota to combat CWD

The hunts will be held the two weekends after Christmas.

White tail deer

Minnesota DNR reveals changes ahead of 2020 deer hunting season

Changes have been made to reflect COVID-19 and the ongoing threat of CWD in deer.

white-tailed deer

DNR to place 26 dumpsters for deer carcasses in CWD-hit areas

With hunting season imminent, the DNR is taking efforts to prevent the spread of CWD.

White tail deer

DNR reveals chronic wasting disease figures after deer season

There were 22 deer confirmed with CWD, but all within current disease management zones.

White tail deer

DNR releases 2019 deer hunting regulations: Here's what's new

Efforts are being taken to minimize chronic wasting disease.

doe, deer

Deer on southeastern MN deer farm tests positive for CWD

Hunters are encouraged to drop off samples of the deer they kill to be tested for the deadly disease.

Yours to own, a unique piece of Super Bowl history

The Salvation Army is holding a charity auction that runs till Tuesday.