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Wherein we seriously ask ourselves - are two heads better than one?

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The Brain Scoop is written and hosted by:
Emily Graslie

Created By:
Hank Green

Directed, Edited, Animated, and Scored by:
Michael Aranda

Huge thanks to Anna Goldman for her help in this episode and for giving me the craziest opportunity of my life.

Production Assistant:
Katie Kirby

Filmed on Location and Supported by:
The Field Museum in Chicago, IL

Double moos for Diana Raynes, Tony Chu, Martina Šafusová, Barbara Velázquez, Alex Austin, and Seth Bergenholtz who transcribed and/or translated this episode!
Emily: This is the weirdest prep I've ever done.


E: Does it moo louder? Or not as loud?

Anna: It double-moos.

E: You guys are all seeing the weirdest thing either of us have ever done.

A: This is so weird. This is so weird.

E: You always ask what's the weirdest thing and... new answer right here.

A: We've got a two-headed calf.

E: Two-faced calf.

A: Two-faced! It's got one head.

E: One head with two faces.

A: Four eyes.

E: Diprosopus. I had to look, I had to check that word. Diprosopus! It is the genetic malformation of this animal being born with two faces on one head. And I looked it up and it was caused by a genetic mutation in a certain developmental protein that is actually called the Sonic Hedgehog Homolog which is the arbitrary name for this weird protein—

A: Clearly a gamer.

E: That, yeah.... Level up! And he didn't quite get that far. So the protein is responsible for the lengthening and the spreading of certain facial characteristics and when you have a mutation of this protein, it can stretch out too much and you can get two faces or maybe three faces or it can shrink and you get a cyclops. So that is all the science that I know about how this freak happened.

A: All the science!

E: All the science that I know.

A: It's got two noses, two and a half ears.

E: Yeah, there's like one little mini ear.

A: Yeah, that doesn't...

E: It has four eyes!

A: Four eyes. That would be able to see each other!

E: They'd be starin—ohh...

A: But, uh, this—what we think is a female was still born so I don't think there was any point at which she could see.

E: No. So um, yeah we're—

A: But it is very developed, it's incredibly developed. There's's really incredible.

E: It has fur, the hooves are still pretty soft but they're hoof-y. I, I just, I feel a little weird about this.

A: This is uh, it''s definitely weird. It's definitely weird. It came in a cooler and you couldn't really see the full scope of the two faces so, we were all just kind of like "Yeah aah this is oh yeah Brain Scoop cool!" and then like, I dumped it out and it thawed, and we were both kind of just like, Oh...

E: Ah... When I walked in here, like my heart leapt a little bit, like I feel a little jumpy, I feel a little bit like when you go on like a roller coaster and you get off and you're trying to walk or you're on one of those moving walkways in the airport and then you stop all of a sudden and you're just kind of like "euuh...oh..oh".

A: Taking an extra step.

E: Yeah. So.

A: Yeah, it's weird.

E: But we're going to prep it!

A: Yeah, let's do this.

E: So, what is the history of this guy?

A: So it was stillborn, and they had to pull it out with a tractor, probably because of the big head.

E: You mean so they didn't know it was two-headed before it was born?

A: No, not as far as I know.

E: Yeah, I can imagine that birthing would probably come with its fair share of complications if your infant had two heads.

A: Yeah, but I guess the cow was fine—female—she lived.

E: Well I wouldn't expect it to be you know, birthed by a male cow, but...

A: Well, you know, you never know.

E: It was extra freaky!

A: Yeah.

E: I'm cutting through the little belly button, or what would have been the belly button, down here.

A: Which you can stick your finger in quite deep—I...I...I did that.

E: Yeah, I didn't. Oh jeez there it goes.

A: Yeah you should have stuck your finger in there.

E: That is crazy it's just a tube! It's a tube that goes up and connects into the stomach. That's crazy! Look at the—it's the interior of the umbilical cord.

A: Wow. We've gotta follow that inside.

E: A journey!

A: We're gonna have to look at all the different stomachs.

E: I didn't even think about that!

A: So do you know what the difference is between two-headed and two-faced?

E: Well—

A: In terms of the protein?

E: Well the—a two-headed animal is a result of a split zygote. So you have, in development, you have two separate eggs that at some point fuse together and that's how you get a two-headed animal or, you know, maybe even human. But as far as the faces go, that is a totally different mutation caused by something else.

A: So I wonder if you could have two heads and four faces... Tours come through the lab all the time, just random people either bringing their friends or family, or sometimes we get donors or whatever and somebody came by yesterday with one of their friends who's a chef and saw this thawing, and wanted to know how much for the body 'cause he wanted the meat, 'cause he thought that two-headed veal...

E: Would sell for a good price?

A: ...would sell more.

E: Wha—what I, I just can't—

A: Would you guys by two-headed veal?

E: I'm trying to get this knee out. Look at this, this nubby knee.

A: That's a good looking knee.

E: Aww this baby. I did read one case of a two-faced animal that actually lived well into adulthood. It was a pig named Ditto, and it had two faces, and it died of pneumonia because... it got an infection in it's lung when one of the faces was eating while the other face was breathing. And it inhaled some food and then got pneumonia.

A: How crazy!

E: Poor Ditto. I know. It's like "aw, dang!"

A: It's also amazing that didn't happen before.

E: Yeah, it lived for quite a while. I love that its name was Ditto.

A: Yeah you can just... and then I just circled around the hoof.

E: Mmkay. I feel pretty lucky that we get the opportunity to especially do this and film at the same time.

A: Yeah no, I think it's great.

E: Gives us a chance to talk about mutant dairy farmers.

A: Do you wanna talk about—I don't think we should talk about mutant dairy farmers.

E: Mutant dairy farmers?

A: I don't wanna buy my milk from two-faced dairy farmers.

E: This is my intern Katie.

Katie: Hi guys!

E: For like the last, I don't know, nine months?

K: Six months.

E: Six months. Nine months, it's been so long! So Katie, what have you learned the most?

A: What have you learned the most?

K: Oh my god...

E: What is the most important thing that you've learned?

K: There is so much more to a museum than just the exhibits.

E: How are you so fast? You did both the arms and I'm still on one leg down here. I used to be good with a scalpel!

A: He's very, very light pink. He's young, this is young muscle.

E: Yeah, hasn't been out running in the pastures and leaping through fields. I don't know that I've ever done an artiodactyl. Not a full one. This might be my first. My first hoofed mammal. So you would think, like this would be—this part would be the... like the knee would be here and then this would be the end of the leg and this is the ankle. That's not--this is the ankle all the way back here. So this is the long part of your foot, this is where your arch would be on your foot, and it connects back to the tibia and the fibula over here with a giant tendon that goes all the way up to the femur. Ohp!

A: It's like... Great!

E: What? I didn't make you do that!

A: Oh great! I didn't wake up wanting to get poop on my hand today, Emily!

E: If you didn't want--if you didn't wake up wanting to get poop on you hand, why are you here, Goldman?!

A: Who's poopin' on whose hand now! Good job tail.

E: This is adorable. Looks like a little rat tail. Oh, can you imagine the tiny little caudal vertebrae in here? The tiny, tiny little tailbones? The tiny, tiniest little tailbone! Oh I am the tiniest tailbone!

Michael: It sounds like the title of a children's book. "The Tiniest Tail Bone."

E: I'm the tiniest tailbone at the tip of the tail! Woah!

A: That happened a little easier than I was expecting.

E: Yeah. You, there you go. Anna Goldman doesn't waste any time. Yeah this is way better than Hosenose. Oh gosh... This guy. This lady. If you can imagine when you're skinning something, it gets a little easier once you get it over the cranium and you can keep pulling toward the nose. But when you get it over the cranium and you have to pull it over two noses, then what? I think it might almost be easier to go up, between the faces, and then kind of peal it around, back toward the center.

A: And then, yeah.

E: It's too--oh--sorry!

A: That was almost really funny.

E: Oh there's one single esophagus.

A: So that's--that's the lower jaw.

E: Woah, oh.

A: This is just really strange. I almost feel like I'm doing this for the first time.

E: You kind of are. Oh, wow! That is unusually--

A: Yeah, it's like much thicker.

E: You can kind of see it right here. You can see how thick that skin is right there.

A: Yeah, versus...

E: It's like, half, it's like a quarter of an inch versus the skin down there.

A: Yeah.

E: Which is maybe an eighth of an inch, or less. I don't know my millimeters.

A: So, I've decided to follow the lower jaw, on one side. I don't really know, it just felt like the right move.

E: Trust your instincts on this one. The textbook is out the window now, Goldman! My forehead itches, my single forehead. Good thing I don't have two itchy foreheads. I'm going to be thinking about everything now in terms of "what if I had another face sticking out of my face?" That's insane, so the mandible is separated. You know, your jaw comes together here at your chin and there's a bone that fuses together, fuses the two parts, but this one is not fused, so you have two-- also imagine if you lived your life with your jaw that's wiggling around.

A: The tongue is also immature so this is a fully formed and fused jaw and the tongue--if I can get it out there--sticks out and its perineum is right back here where it attaches to the lower jaw.

E: So that's like the -aaahhhhh- that's that part.

A: But this one, it comes all the way to the front here and you can't even, you can't pull the tongue out.

E: So it's all dried.

A: So yeah, so it's a dwarf tongue and it's not a fully fused jaw. And, we got these guys.

E: Ohhh! The inside of the cheek! Oh I love that so much.

A: Yeah. Yeah.

E: They have this really interesting texture, do you know what that's called?

A: ...I forgot.

E: Oh I don't know either. I can't wait to see the teeth! They haven't even erupted. Oh they're gonna look so weird!

A: I think the brain is fused here, and then you have four lobes.

E: You think you have two tiny lobes and two tiny lobes?

A: Yeah.

E: And have four lobes?

A: Yeah.

E: So it doesn't share a conscience. It's two separate thinking bodies. In one head.

A: Yeah that's what I think. Because like, there's a lot of--there's a lot of cranium right here.

E: Yeah.

A: Maybe it's just filled with bone and there's no brain.

E: Euuhhh!

A: He's got a cowlick right in the--between his ears!

E: Aw, right by—on the middle of his heads.

A: He didn't get two cowlicks.

E: Aw it's just the one.

A: Just the one.

E: That's so cute. How did you even cut on that side?

A: Magic.

E: That's insane. This is so insane! I'm just...getting close to the--the weird ear. Oh my god. Did it--

A: Does it have a canal?

E: I thought so... I don't think it does, I think it's just fat in between there. I didn't think we'd ever get the chance to do something like this on The Brain Scoop. Like how do we top this? Now that's my next question: What do we do that's going to be crazier than this? I guess, you know, the—

A: I kind of felt that way about, like, Squirrel McNastyface, like how are we going to do something that's like, better and greater than this, and then this came along so you know, you can't always plan for the coolest things.

E: Well yeah and that doesn't always--that's what I was gonna say is, I guess what I love about all of this is that it doesn't even have to be really weird for it to still be really fascinating. Like, I would have probably been fine just doing a regular squirrel, that squirrel just happen to have a really crazy thing on its face. And I guess it's also like how big of a deal you make something.

A: That is true.

E: Like, I mean, Hosenose, like, had a history and it's important to talk about that kind of thing but at the end of the day, he was just an anteater.

A: So this is the eyelid of one of the eyes, one of the inside eyes. With all the eyelashes.

E: Oh man we're getting close to having all the eyes out right now. Not just both of the eyes, ALL of the eyes.

A: All four.

E: Does this count as one head or two heads then? With two faces?

A: Well, that's-- This is one head.

E: Yeah, 'cause it has one large occipital. I guess that's--

A: Like, two heads I think is like two separate craniums. These are joined craniums.

E: Like, two heads is like...

A: Yeah.

E: What is that?

A: Well that's cartilage from the ear.

E: But it doesn't have a canal?

A: Well that's...what is....oh?

E: Does it? Or is that behind the eyeball? It's got eyeballs!

A: It looks like that's a little--like there's a hole right there.

E: Well yeah, that's behind the zygomatic, behind the ocular arch.

A: Yeah, but—where are the... I don't know.

E: I don't think the ears got a hole. I think that was just a dud ear. I'll be thinking about this calf for the rest of my life. I'm going to be talking about today for a very long time. You got—Anna, you gotta figure out what is going on over there. This is unprecedented on The Brain Scoop set.

A: This, I think, is where—

E: The connecting raimus?!

A: —where the two jaws meet.

E: Gosh golly! This is so crazy!

A: This is where the two jaws meet.

E: Like, I'm gonna cry. I don't even get what's going on right now. Oh my gosh. Ah!! They're not fused!

A: They're not fused.

E: I would have thought they would--I don't know what I was thinking that they would be fused or something and it would've like, opened it's mouth and two mouths would've opened. This is so... insane!

A: It's a really good thing it did not live. This, like this lower jaw is like totally—well they both are—are like totally malformed.

E: Oh yeah. It's got a--like a C shape.

A: And feel like...

E: Oh this is nuts. We gotta get this skin off.

A: We gotta, we gotta.

E: I love how the teeth are just like barely erupting out of the gum, too. You can see them, but they're still covered in gum.

A: There's this guy who supposedly had a head in the back of his head.

E: Like Voldemort?!

A: Yes but, he would complain of him whispering, and like telling him things even though, like, it was just like closed eyes and whatever. You can Google it, I don't remember this guy's name but he apparently killed himself because of this guy and the voices.

E: Look at these jaws!

A: And look, so this one isn't fused at all but this one is fused, but like very wide spread.

E: Bowed. Yeah.

A:  I was gonna open up the trachea and follow it up.

E: I think you're probably good to go.


E: It still has brains on it.
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