Our list of the top 10 Conjoined twins in human history continues.
Top 10 Conjoined Twins
Entries 1 Through 5
Giacomo and Giovanni Tocci
The Tocci twins were dicephalic (two-headed) conjoined twins born in Locana, Italy in the late 1800s. When they were born, their father freaked out and had to go into an asylum for a month. The brothers had 4 arms, 2 legs, 2 hearts, 2 stomachs, 2 sets of lungs.. but shared everything from the intestines downward. Unfortunately they never learned to walk (and their parents had no interest in encouraging it, as it would interfere with their ability to exploit the pair). The Tocci’s spoke 3 languages and would occasionally fight each other (we can’t help but imagine it looked something like Ash fighting his “twin” in Army of Darkness). After doing a popular American tour, they retired to Venice, staying out of the public eye. Reports say they married two women in 1904. Reports on whether they had kids and when they died are contradictory. As with the Bunker brothers (see #1), the Tocci twins would inspire Mark Twain to write a story about them, which eventually morphed into The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson.
Lazarus and Joannes Colloredo
Lazarus-Joannes Baptista Colloredo (Joannes Baptista meaning John The Baptist) were conjoined twins who were born in Genoa, Italy in 1617. Joannes was underdeveloped – his torso and left leg stuck out of his brother’s midsection, just hanging there. Joannes never spoke or opened his eyes, but it is said that his mouth was in a state of almost constant salivation. It is also said that given the right stimulus, Joannes would move his arms. The Colloredo twins toured Europe; when not doing shows, Joannes would be covered with a cloak. Scientist and doctor Thomas Bartholin reported that Lazarus married and had many children (all normal).
Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst
Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst are more popularly known as the Biddenden Maids, and it is not known with certainty if they were real or just a legend. The legend of the Biddenden Maids suggests that they were born in the year 1100, in Biddenden, which is a village in the county of Kent, England. They were said to be joined at the shoulder and hip, and that when they died at the age of 34, they left plots of land called the Bread and Cheese lands. The income from these plots of land would be used to pay for an annual dole of food and drink to the poor every Easter. Since the late 1700s, Biddenden cakes with the image of the twins on them, have been served to the poor.
Historians could find no records of the twins before 1770. Even their names are suspect. Some historians say that the Biddenden Maids are only a myth. Other historians have stated that the twins were only joined at the hip, and that they lived in the 1700s, not the 12th century as previously believed. Biddenden cakes are still given out to the poor today.
Abigail and Brittany Hensel
Abigail Hensel (Abby) and Brittany Hensel (Britty) were born in Minnesota in 1990. They are known as dicephalic parapagus twins (conjoined twins whose bodies are joined, but have separate heads). Even though they seem to share 1 body, they each have their own heart, stomach, spine and spinal cord. The Hensel sisters are interesting not only for their rare condition but also the nature of how they get around.
In order to walk, run, or swim, each twin must coordinate with the other (same goes for things like emailing). Abby controls one half of their body, Britty the other. They both have driver’s licenses and are in college now. They have said that they expect to date people, get married, and have children.
Chang and Eng Bunker
Born in 1811, the Bunker brothers were the origin of the name “Siamese twins”, being born in Siam (Thailand). Joined at the stomach, they traveled with P.T. Barnum’s circus and ended up marrying two sisters, with whom they had 21 kids. In 1874, Chang died in his sleep from stroke. Eng refused to be separated from his brother, and died shortly after, since blood was no longer being supplied to him from his twin brother’s body.
Interesting facts about the Bunker brothers:
- Since they married women who were sisters to each other, their children became double first cousins and the genetic equal to half-siblings
- At first sharing a bed for 4, the wives had a falling out, resulting in two households in which the twins spent three days at each.
- The fused liver of the brothers is currently on display at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Mark Twain wrote a story about them
- Alex Sink, who ran for governor of Florida in 2010, is one of Chang and Eng’s great-granddaughters.
Thanks to Ripleys and Wikipedia
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