Daily Mail screws up with two-headed pelican.

September 17, 2012 • 3:26 am

I don’t think so!. Yes, I know the Daily Mail is unreliable, but a moment’s consideration would show that this, touted as a rare, two-headed pelican (headline: “Talk about a double-header!  Amazing photograph shows pelican with TWO HEADS in flight!”), is either an early April Fool’s joke or massive journalistic incompetence. (The “Caters News Agency,” which provided the photo, is real.)

Two heads are always better than one, the saying goes, although one feathered fowl may disagree.

A pelican that appears to have two heads was captured in flight over the Danube River by a lucky Ukrainian photographer earlier this month.

The image was taken by Vladimir Kucherenko in the Danube Delta, Europe’s largest and best preserved delta which is a host to 300 species of birds.

Forget about the ungrammatical headline, implying that only the heads are in flight; the piece goes on to report other cases of two-headed pelicans and quotes the Massachusetts Audubon Society as saying that such birds aren’t expected to live long in the wild.  And there’s a bit of developmental biology as well:

The development of two heads in an animal could be the result of random chance, exposure to chemicals or a complication during the gestation period that prevents a pair of embryos from splitting.

Here it is!!!

Apparently they didn’t notice it has four wings as well. What a mutant!

And how many readers will believe this? A lot, I bet.

h/t: Matthew Cobb

16 thoughts on “Daily Mail screws up with two-headed pelican.

  1. I object to the alleged ungrammaticality of the headline. “[[pelican with two heads] in flight]” is just as much a possible English structure as “[pelican with [two heads in flight]]”. In spoken language, those would mostly be unambiguous thanks to subtle differences in intonation and pausing, but it’s not really the Daily Fail’s fault that we don’t usually write those brackets; arguably, though, their use of UPPER CASE made the unintended reading more prominent than it would otherwise have been. /nitpick

    Other than that, how could they have missed the second pair of wings? I must go think about what story I’m going to sell them if they’re that easily fooled.

  2. Somebody needs to get to Photoshop and remove that extra wing. Sensible people would still not be convinced but at least it would look like it might be true.

  3. Correction: it has 3 wings, not 4. (Where do you see a 4th wing?) It also only has one leg … and you’ve been had. The report is *obviously* entirely tongue-in-cheek.

      1. That’s not a fourth wing, that’s the alula.

        I agree with Beachscriber–3 wings. But the fourth is obviously thus implied…

  4. Lord Percy: “I can’t stand all these portents! Only last week I saw a cow in a field that had two heads and two bodies!”

    Prince Edmund: “Or two cows standing next to each other?”

    The Black Adder

  5. I believe this is the lesser-spotted sell-more-advertising bird. DM frequently pulls such stunts purely to get more site visits.

  6. It’s a great coincidental photo, but you have to be very special to miss the extra wings and the fact that the body clearly shows that it does not have 2 wings on the visible side.

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