Meet The World's First Identical Twin Puppies
What could possibly be better than a plump, happy puppy? That's easy: two plump, happy puppies. But there's something extra special about this particular pair of adorable pups.
They're twins - identical twins, to be exact. And, frankly, that makes them kind of a big deal.
Monozygotic twinning - that is to say, when a single fertilized egg forms two separate embryos - is known to occur in only a handful of animals. Even then, as with humans, it can be a pretty rare phenomenon - with identical twins being born about 3 out of every 1,000 births.
When it comes to our canine companions though, identical twins have been unheard of.
Kurt de Cramer, a veterinarian in South Africa, was performing a fairly routine Cesarean section on an Irish wolfhound mom-to-be when he saw something he'd never seen before. Two of the puppies, both males, had umbilical chords sharing the same placenta; that, along with other signs, hinted that they actually shared the same DNA, too.
"When I realized 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," de Cramer told BBC.
Fortunately, they were both delivered healthy (and adorable).
Blood tests would later back up de Cramer's suspicions - the puppies had identical DNA profiles. "Monozygotic twinning has not previously been genetically confirmed in the dog," researchers wrote in a study on the findings.
While these puppies are the first confirmed case of identical twin dogs, there's a chance others are out there. Truth is, without seeing puppies in utero or comparing their DNA later on, it would be difficult to determine if two pups were actually monozygotic twins.
"It has taken so long for us to find a monozygotic pair, so they are probably rare," researcher Carolynne Joone said. "But so many of them will have been born naturally and blissfully unaware."
And it's hard to beat the bliss of puppies, identical or not.