Outside of humans and one species of armadillo,
identical twins seem to be extremely rare. Now for the first time a
bitch has given birth to a pair of identical twins in South
Africaâ€™s Rant en Dal Animal Hospital.
Vet. Dr Kurt de CramerÂ was performing a
Caesarean section on a female Irish wolfhound
thatÂ showed distress and prolonged abdominal straining
when she was due to give birth but noticed something
Dr Cramer said he noticed that the wolfhound had an
unusual bulging by her uterus.
At first Dr Cramer thought the lump was excess fluid
surrounding the foetus and then painstakingly extracted the foetus
from the bulge by making an incision into the
dogâ€™s uterus only to find not one, but two
foetuses. They were both attached with umbilical cords to the same
Speaking to BBC, he said
â€œWhen I realised that the puppies were of the
same gender and that they had very similar markings, I also
immediately suspected that they might be identical twins having
originated from the splitting of an embryo,â€ says de
Â He could not stop and marvel at this
peculiar discovery, because there were still five live puppies to
deliver. Cramer says it was the first time de Cramer had delivered
two living pups from one placenta in 26 years of practice.
He had to call his team of Animal gynecology
specialists who obtained blood samples of the twins when they were
two weeks old and confirmed they were twins.
â€œThe twins looked very similar,â€
says Dr Joone Carolynne of James Cook University in Townsville,
Australia . â€œBut pups from the same litter often
do, [and] there were small differences in the white markings on
their paws, chests and the tips of their tails. I
wasnâ€™t sure they were monozygotic [identical] at
Â De Cramer Â and his team had
therefore delivered the first known instance of monozygotic twin
dogs and when the twins were six weeks old the team again took DNA
samples, this time from their tissue rather than their blood which
also confirmed they were identical twins.
It is hard to know, says Joone to BBC.
â€œWe are so lucky that this bitch ended up having
a C-section,â€ she explains, because otherwise it is
unlikely her owners would have noticed.
Â â€œYes, there would have been one
less placenta than there were pups, but as the bitch often eats the
placentas the owner probably would have simply shrugged this off.
There have been rumours about twins in dogs before,â€
says Joone. â€œWe just happened to be lucky enough
to be able to confirm it genetically. It has taken so long for us
to find a monozygotic pair, so they are probably rare,â€
says Joone. â€œBut so many of them will have been
born naturally and blissfully unaware.â€