FACT CHECK: No, This Image Does Not Show A Real Calf With Three Heads
An image shared on Facebook over 250 times purportedly shows a calf with three heads caused by a “rare genetic mutation.”
The image originated from a Saskatchewan-based newspaper as part of an April Fool’s Day prank.
A genetic mutation can cause a condition known as “polycephaly,” or having more than one head, according to Bionity. The condition is rare and can either be bicephalic or tricephalic, meaning two or three heads respectively, according to the outlet.
In the image, a calf with three fully-formed heads appears to stand in a hay-covered area with other animals. The post’s caption attributes the creature’s condition to a “rare genetic mutation” but does not specify what the mutation is. (RELATED: Does Coronavirus Have HIV Proteins That Indicate It Was Genetically Modified?)
The image is digitally fabricated. The artwork first appeared in an article published by the Saskatchewan-based newspaper The Davidson Leader on April 1, 2019. The article claims the three-headed calf was born in the area and states officials from Guinness World Records and Ripley’s Believe It or Not verified the creature’s authenticity.
The newspaper explained in a piece a week later that the story had been a practical joke, displaying a photo of a one-headed calf that served as a model for the fictional animal. “Rest assured that you may continue to trust The Davidson Leader as a reliable source of local news,” the article concluded.
There have been actual instances of animals being born with more than one head. One calf with two heads was born in Lazec, North Macedonia in April 2021, according to Reuters. Another two-headed calf attracted attention in northeast India in January 2022, Al Jazeera reported.