You may think there's nothing cuter than a tiny little puppy. Well, try two tiny little puppies…who are exactly the same!
Yes, veterinarian Kurt de Cramer at the Rant en Dal Animal Hospital in Mogale City, South Africa, had quite the surprise when he came to delivering babies to an Irish wolfhound… Because de Cramer ended up delivering identical twins.
— Vets For Choice (@Vets4Choice) September 1, 2016
In fact, monozygotic twinning, when one fertilised egg makes two different embryos, is extremely uncommon. And it's even less common for our four-footed friends.
When de Cramer began the Caesarean procedure, the vet saw an unusual bulge near the dog's uterus. It was only then that he realised that there was not only one, but two foetuses attached to the same placenta.
There were five other puppies left to deliver, each with their own placenta as usual. But this was the first time in his 26 years as a vet that he had delivered two dogs from one placenta! He tells the BBC:
When 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.
Luckily, the twins were born healthy, and adorable of course.
The vets were unsure at first, but blood tests confirmed that these are the first confirmed identical twin dogs. However, they may not be the first ever identical canine twins, as researcher Carolynne Joone reveals:
It has taken so long for us to find a monozygotic pair, so they are probably rare. But so many of them will have been born naturally and blissfully unaware.
Either way, these pups are just about as cute as can be. They have been named Cullen and Romulus and both are doing well.
And who knows, maybe we'll be seeing more of these identical animals in the future. Joone concludes: "people don't see these things unless they know to look. Perhaps now they will, and more will appear."