Two heads are not always better than one - two-faced and double-headed sea turtle morphology evaluation

Researchers from the Florida Atlantic University recently published an interesting study of malformation of sea turtle embryos and hatchlings found on south Florida beaches. In the study published in the Journal of Morphology, two-faced and double-headed turtles were morphologically described in comparison to control (single-headed) turtles using microCT scans and Dragonfly software. Dragonfly was used for 3D visualization and measurements of morphological features including curved carapace length and width, and the extent of axial bifurcation. Overall the results indicate two-faced and double-headed turtles suffer from inferior morphology in other features. The research reported helps to better understand these malformations and especially how these may vary in a population, eventually providing information on population health.

According to lead author Dr Danielle Ingle, “We have been using Dragonfly for a number of years and it works great for morphological descriptions and 3D rendering of microCT scans. We especially like the Lookup Tables feature that can create custom looks, which you can see in this bifacial sea turtle hatchling image. Dragonfly is not only excellent for working with large CT files, but also gives the user the right tools to create outstanding figures and cover images. It is my go-to for any CT work!"


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Ingle, D.N., Meredith, T.L., Perrault, J.R. and Wyneken, J., 2021. Two heads are not always better than one: craniofacial and axial bifurcation in cheloniid embryos and hatchlings (Chelonia mydas and Caretta caretta). Journal of Morphology (

Associated Research Labs and Centers

FAUHS Owls Imaging Lab

Loggerhead Marinelife Center

FAU Wyneken Sea Turtle Lab

FAU Marine Science Laboratory

Keywords: Bicephalic, Bifacial, Gree Sea Turtle, Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Micro-Computed Tomography


3D renderings of a microCT scan of a two-headed sea turtle from the study. All visualizations made with Dragonfly.