Earlier this week, a fisherman named Garry Warrick caught a fish with two mouths in his net in South Australia. The fish is a bony bream: a freshwater fish endemic to Australia. These fish are in the family Clupeidae, which is the same as sardines, shads, and herrings. Warrick claims to have caught the fish alive in his net either in Lake Bonney or one of the streams that feeds into the lake.
The two mouths on this bizarre bony bream are stacked on top of one another. While the top mouth is situated in a location pretty close to normal placement, the bottom one almost looks like a gaping hole in the fish’s neck (you know, if fish had necks). The top one is the only mouth that appears to be functional.
"Both mouths are actually joined together," Warrick told ABC's Malcolm Sutton. "The top one opens and closes but the bottom one looks permanently open. Other than that, it looks like a normal fish.”
Though the fish definitely had an interesting birth defect, it’s hardly unprecedented. A female bony bream will produce about 33,000 eggs. This large number is due to the fact that some of the eggs will get eaten, and some won’t develop well. If a female fish puts enough eggs out there, some are bound to hatch and grow successfully, so she gives it her best shot.
The fish caught by Garry Warrick. While the top mouth appears to be able to function normally, the bottom mouth is unable to close. Image credit: Garry Warrick via ABC
Throughout his 30-year-long career as a commercial angler, Warrick has become quite accustomed to seeing such strange deformities. He told ABC that he has seen a carp with an elongated, dolphin-like head. This bony bream, however, was different than any of the deformed fish he had seen before.
"I normally pack them for cray bait and fertilizer but this one I put in the freezer," he explained. "I hadn't really told anyone about it other than my wife, and she said you might as well put the photos online.”
The announcement of this odd fish comes shortly after the discovery of a piglet born in China with birth defects so severe, it appeared to have a beak-like snout and a penis-like protrusion coming off of its forehead. The piglet was rejected by its mother and refused to eat from a bottle, and ultimately starved to death a few days after birth.