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Bengal 1787: Facts about the Two-Headed Boy

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Written by Tadese Faforiji

When something far from normative occurs, it becomes so strange and circulates farther than the normal occurrences. The story of a two-headed boy is one of the most unusual happenings in the world.

The Two-headed Boy Birthed

A boy, with two heads, joined together, was born in 1783 in Mundul Gait, Bengal, a region in the Indian subcontinent which is today divided between Bangladesh and India (particularly the state of West Bengal) (1).

The midwife to his mother was so horrified that she threw the boy into the fire (2). To her surprise, the boy only had few burns and managed to keep surviving. The first miraculous happening that occurred when he was birthed was his survival while few babies born with the same conditions died immediately after birth.

His burns were healed and the news of the two-headed boy started to spread across the whole of India, that many personalities queued to see the boy. Many nobles, civil servants and significant persons hosted the boy and arranged parties for people to come and have a look.

It was claimed that the boy had once been exhibited in Calcutta where he attracted many people and earned his family certain amount of money (3). As the news kept spreading across the sub-continent, the British East India Company got aware. This boy was later stolen for the sake of scientific examination.

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The Position of the Two-joined Heads

Although the boy had two heads, the position of both heads cannot be imagined until it is being viewed. The second head was on the top of the first head. While the first head was in a normal position, the second head faced upwards, having all qualities of the first head including nose, eyes, ears, mouth and others. It was as if “they were stacked on each other.”

Notably, the second head had few disparities or irregularities with the first head; the ears and eyes were not fully formed and notable disfigures with the tongue and jaw.

The second head, in most times, acted independently. While the boy was asleep, the eyes of the secondary head might still be open watching all around; and in another situation, whenever the boy cried or laugh, the second head acted separately. Notwithstanding, both heads worked together in some cases.

For an instance, the tongue of the second head salivated whenever the boy was being fed, and also, also it “would instinctively suckle when presented with a breast.”

The Medical Condition

The scientists have examined the condition of the boy, namely, Craniopagus Parasiticus, as the failure of the embryo to split in the womb during the development of twins. Till today, Craniopagus Parasiticus is a rare medical issue and removal of the parasitic twin is the only known treatment for it. This removal is a very deadly attempt. Craniopagus parasiticus is an extremely rare type of parasitic twinning occurring in about 4 to 6 of 10,000,000 births (Alamy.com).

The two-headed boy of Bengal. cr: Wikimedia commons.

Several operations of such medical conditions had led to the deaths of the victims. For instance, a girl with Craniopagus Parasiticus died in 2003, a few hours after the surgical operation, just like the death of an Egyptian boy that died in 2005 after sustaining brain impairment from the surgical operation.

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The story was a different one for the two-headed boy; he of course survived despite the medical condition. Unfortunately, the boy was bitten by a cobra and resulted in his death. He was four years old.

Scientific Experiments

After the burial of the boy, there was a big craving in the scientific world to examine the corpse, especially the head of the boy. Not long, an agent from the Dutch East Indian Company exhumed the grave, dissected the corpse, and made some discoveries (4).

It was discovered that he had two brains separately, and “both received nutrients through the same system.” After all experiments, the skull of the boy was gifted to Everard Home, an English surgeon. Currently, the skull displays at the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of London.

Cite as: Faforiji Tadese. Bengal 1787: Facts about the Two-Headed Boy’s Story. October 18, 2021. Tadexprof. Retrieved at https://tadexprof.com/2021/10/bengal-1787-facts-about-the-two-headed-boy/

Resources

  1. The Boy With Two Heads – History of Yesterday. Available at https://historyofyesterday.com/the-boy-with-two-heads-93d164ede1a5
  2. Craniopagus parasiticus – Wikipedia. Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craniopagus_parasiticus
  3. Alamy Post on the Bengal’s two-headed Boy. Retrieved at Link
 
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About the author

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Tadese Faforiji

I am Tadese Faforiji, a history student of the prestigious Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State- 21st-century University, properly called. I am a blogger and an avid writer.

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