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The Two-Headed Boy of Bengal: His Life, Early Death and Dissection

A boy born in 1783 had two heads, one on top of the other with the second head upside down so that the neck stub was in the air. It was said that the second head had a fully functional brain and whispered random stuffs to the other brain.

The Two-Headed Boy of Bengal: His Life, and Early Death

The Two-Headed Boy of Bengal was born in the village of Mundul Gait in Bengal in May of 1783 into a poor farming family in India. His remarkable life was very nearly extinguished immediately after his delivery as a terrified midwife tried to kill the baby by throwing him into a fire.

Miraculously, he managed to survive.

When compared to the average child, both heads were of an appropriate size and development. The second head sat atop the main head inverted and simply ended in a neck-like stump. The second head seemed to, at times, function independently from the main head. When the boy cried or smiled the features of the second head did not always match.

Yet, when the main head was fed, the second head would produce saliva.

The Two-Headed Boy of Bengal: His Fast Life, and Early Death

While the main head was well formed the secondary head did posses some irregularities.

The eyes and ears were underdeveloped, the tongue was small and the jaw malformed but both were capable of motion. When the Boy slept, the secondary head would often be observed alert and awake, eyes darting about.

Due to his freakish appearance, his parents began to exhibit him in Calcutta where he attracted a great deal of attention and earned his family a fair amount of money.

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As his fame spread across India, so did the caliber of his observers. Several noblemen, civil servants and city officials arranged to showcase the boy in their own homes for both private gatherings and grand galas – treating their guests to up close examinations.

Despite the attention the Boy received, there were no intensive first hand medical examinations of the Boy on record.

The Boy, who seemed to suffer no serious ill effects in relation to his condition, died at the age of four from a cobra bite. It was only then, after much unseemly business, that medicine was able to examine the case.

The Two-Headed Boy of Bengal:

Not long After the Boy was buried his grave was robbed by Mr. Dent, the East India company’s representative. He dissected the putrefied head himself and one of his discovery was that the brains were separate and distinct. Each brain was also enveloped in its proper coverings and it appeared as though both brains received the nutrition required to sustain life and thought

When he was done experimenting, he gave the skull to a Captain Buchanan of the East Indian Company. Buchanan brought the skull to England, where it ended up in the hands of his close friend Everard Home who happened to be a Surgeon at the Royal College of Surgeons.

The skull of the Boy of Bengal can still be seen at the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of London.

Today the classification of this condition is known as Craniopagus parasiticus and technically falls under the category of parasitic twins.

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The condition is an extremely rare type of parasitic twinning occurring in about 2 to 3 of 5,000,000 births. In craniopagus parasiticus, a parasitic twin head with an undeveloped body is attached to the head of a developed twin. Fewer than a dozen cases of this type of conjoined twin have been documented.

Only ten cases of craniopagus parasiticus have been reported in the medical research literature. Of those cases, only three have survived birth. The two headed Boy of Bengal was the the first case on record and his skull is preserved at the Hunterian Museum at the Royal Society of Surgeons, England.

Sources: HM| Wiki


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