Get ready to take everything you think you know about twins and throw it out of the window. You may think there are just two types of twin, identical and fraternal, but there are actually several more.
In superfetation a woman who is already pregnant releases another egg which is then fertilized. The babies are twins but different gestational ages. With superfecundation, a woman who has slept with two men in close succession can release two eggs, and each egg is fertilized by a different man's sperm. This makes the babies twins, but they have different fathers.
Even identical twins can be mirror images of each other, with hair swirls going in opposite directions or a mole on the same spot but the opposite side of the body. On top of that, although identical twins start off with the same DNA it can change in the womb, or how their body uses the DNA happens differently, and they are born with slight disparities. Usually, you cannot tell, but from time to time this small change affects how a twin looks and the difference is noticeable.
Although fraternal twins may or may not look as alike as any other sibling, there are plenty of twins you would have trouble believing are from the same family, let alone consider they once shared a womb.
So suspend your assumptions and take a look at the twins who you will not believe are related.
17Are They Both Your Daughters?
Twins often look similar when they are first born but change in different ways as they grow. This is what happened with Marcia and Millie Biggs after they were born in July 2006.
Mom Amanda and dad Michael began to notice Millie's skin tone and hair started to become darker, and she began to look more like her father. Marcia began to look fairer, and the parents discovered that just as Millie had inherited her father's smooth dark skin and dark hair, Marcia has inherited her mother's pale complexion and golden hair.
Mom, Amanda says,“I’d be picking them up after school, and the other parents would stop me and say, ‘Are they your daughters?’ When I told that them that they were twins, they would always be stunned.”
Kian and Remee Hodgson spent their first nine months growing together in their mother's womb and were born by cesarian section, less than a minute apart. There is no problem telling which pretty twin is which though.
The girl's mother Kylee Hodgson, and their father Remi Horder both have white mothers and black fathers. When both parents are of mixed heritage, their eggs and sperm contain a random mixture of the genes that govern skin color. So their children will inherit a mix of genes for black skin and a for white skin.
In the case of Kian and Remee, the egg and sperm for one sister had only the genes for black skin, and the other sister's egg and sperm each had just the genes for white skin color. A truly one-in-a-million chance.
15This Irish Italian Pair
In times past, before the internet, before transit, before we used electricity, people would be limited in their choice of partner to people in their immediate geographical area. Today, after years of mass migration and the ability to be on one continent in the morning and another in the afternoon, the incredible miracle of genetics has the ability to throw up some fantastic mixes of genes.
At one time an Italian mother would only have the option of marrying an Italian man and giving birth to children who had dark hair and eyes and olive Mediterranean skin. Meanwhile, an Irish father would likely marry an Irish woman and have pales skinned, freckled babies, possibly with some curly red hair.
Today an Irish dad can marry an Italian mom and have twins that reflect both backgrounds by looking like one parent each.
14Sisters Not Just Friends
Even among geographically close regions such as Italy and Germany, there can be stark differences in eye and hair color and skin tone. No twins on this list demonstrate that fact better than Katy and Nicole Zembrodt.
Katy, standing on the left, is tall with dark brown eyes, brown hair and an olive skin that tans easily. Twin sister Nicole, standing on the left, has pale skin that doesn’t tan, blue eyes and blonde hair.
Seeing them stand next to each other in the picture above, you could be forgiven for thinking they were friends getting ready to go to their graduation party. It is difficult to believe they are part of the same family, let alone twins.
Nicole appears to have inherited all of the of the German genes in the family while Katy inherited all of the Italian ones.
13It's Fun To Tease Our Friends
Born in 1997, in Gloucester, UK, twin sisters Maria and Lucy Aylmer would have trouble looking any more different if they tried.
Lucy, the ‘shy one’ who studies art and design at Gloucester College says ‘No one ever believes we are twins. Even when we dress alike, we still don’t look like sisters, let alone twins. Friends have even made us produce our birth certificates to prove it.’
Maria, the ‘out-going one’ is studying law and psychology at Cheltenham College and says she enjoys watching people's faces when she tells them she and Lucy are twins.
Dad, Vince, is white and Mom, Donna, is half Jamaican, and their other children all look relatively similar. Lucy is the only pale, straight haired redhead in the family and Lucy is the only dark skinned with glorious thick curly black haired child.
12Famous Twin Sisters
Ok, so you already know these two are related so it is a bit of a stretch to say you won’t believe they are. However, if these women were not the twin daughters of George and Laura Bush and you hadn’t heard of them, you could be forgiven for thinking they were just two good friends who happened to be in a large number of photographs together.
Dark haired, blue eyed and serious looking, Barbara Bush is the older twin and moved to the East coast; she is single, works as a health care activist and supported gay marriage in New York.
Jenna is blonde haired and brown eyed, married with two children and works as a part-time reading coordinator in a Maryland charter school.
These twins buck the trend of twins being alike in looks and in how they live their lives.
11Saved Mom And Dad Some Trouble
When Tracey-Ann and Andrew discovered they were having twins they decided from the start that they wanted to treat them as individuals. There would be no clumping them together and calling them ‘the twins,' no dressing them alike and no buying them the same toys, but the lucky parents of two fantastic kids needn’t of worried.
When their twins, Orlando and Natalia arrived the babies were already clearly distinguishable from each other, and not only by what was in their diapers.
Oldest twin Orlando was black, with lots of dark hair and Natalia, who is one minute younger, was pale skinned with blonde hair and blue eyes.
Proud mom Tracey-Ann said: "Right from the start we said we wouldn't treat them as twins. We knew they weren't identical, but we want to make sure we call them by their names rather than 'the twins' to keep their individuality. Now because they look so different to each other, it will be easier for them to be individuals."
Both parents are also intent on ensuring both twins are bought up recognizing all aspects of their family heritage. Andrew said: "They're not just one of each, black and white. They're half-Jamaican, one quarter-English and one-quarter Italian."
10Twins? Are You Sure?
Some of you might recognize Nyle DiMarco from his successful stint on Dancing With The Stars. When he became the winner in season 22 it was his second reality TV success; he had already won America’s Next Top Model the year before in 2014. The dark haired, dark eyed, dark complexioned Nyle stunned everyone at the studio when he decided to bring along his twin brother to watch rehearsals and a recording of DWTS.
Twin brother Nico is a pale skinned, curly redhead who has a successful career as a DJ despite, like his twin, being born deaf.
Even when both brothers are standing together and telling people that they are, twins, it is challenging to believe. It is so difficult I am surprised people haven’t started demanding baby pictures of them together as proof.
9Wrestle With This
High School wrestling brothers Will and Sam Bryant are so different in size they can compete in different size and weight classes from each other, despite the fact they shared a womb for nine months.
People who do not know them well always think the boys are joking when they reveal their twinship.
"Most of the time we have to show our ID's," Will said.
Their physical differences are not the insignificant little things for which you have to look carefully. Will is 5 feet 3 inches tall with dark hair and competes in the 119-pound weight class. His brother Sam is 5 feet 11 inches tall with closely cropped red hair and fights at 189 pounds.
Sam says he is an "a hip-hop kind of guy” while Will enjoys country. It would seem that pretty much the only thing they have in common is their parents, hometown and birthday!
8Identical But Not
This one is especially for those who think that because identical twins are genetically identical that they must look alike.
The cuties above are Amelia and Jasmine, and they are identical or monozygotic twins, meaning they developed from the same zygote, which then split in half to create two identical embryos. Yet, despite this identical start, Amelia has dark skin, dark brown eyes, and black hair, just like dad, and Jasmine has a fair complexion, blue eyes, and mousy brown hair. How can they be genetically identical and look so different?
Think of your genes as lines that must be read and interpreted. As each embryo forms separately so the lines are read and interpreted differently, resulting in a different physical look.
It is the human physical equivalent of giving Morgan Freeman, Vin Diesel, and Jackie Chan the same lines and role in a movie. All three would say the same thing, but each one would interpret the dialogue and delivery it very differently.
7Yes, They Are Both My Sons
Born six minutes apart Tyrelle and Tyreece Charles caused a furor in the delivery room. Mom Julia says of the moment "After they popped out, my husband Tim just shouted to me, 'we've got one of each,' and I couldn't believe it. Tyreece was so dark, and Tyrelle was lily white.”
Dad Timothy said: "We were chuffed, shocked and so surprised when they came out. I was completely made up. It was hard getting them back off the nurses."
When you see the boys together, you would be forgiven for mistaking the cheeky chappys as friends. They are friends of course, but with Tyreece being a foot taller with dark skin and an afro while Tyrelle is a pale skinned blond you’d be forgiven for being dubious about the twin label.
Proud dad Tim added “I think it is better they are different, they get on so well, and they can't be separated. They curl up in bed together like they are still in their mother's womb.”
6The Only Such Twins In The World
Sienna and Sierra Bernal are quite possibly the most unique twins on this list. In the photo above the girls are 13 years old, and Sienna is so small she can hide behind her sister and not be seen.
Sienna is a primordial dwarf, a form of dwarfism that results in the person being tiny but with a head and body in proportion, she is only 4'1" and weighs just 37-pounds. Sierra is an average sized 13-year-old, 5'1" and 84-pounds.
Sienna was so tiny in the womb they did not even discover mom Chrissy was having twins until the sixth month. One foot long and weighing in at just over one pound Sienna was only given a 10% chance of survival.
Happily Sienna proved to be made of stronger stuff than the doctors thought and now both girls are typical teenagers, even if it hard to believe they are twins.
5Lightning Does Strike Twice
By this point on the list one black parent and one white parent having one black twin and one white twin is fantastic but not unheard of. So, to up the stakes, a little meet Dean Durrant and his wife Alison Spooner, the proud parents of two sets of twins, one set born in 2001 and the second born in 2009.
First came Lauren and Hayleigh who stunned their parents when one was born white, just like mom and one were born black, just like dad.
"I honestly didn't think that it would happen again. I thought that we'd have two of the same. Well, I didn't think that we'd have twins again for a start," Mom Alison said.
When the younger twins Miya and Leah, were born one black and one white, they were premature and had to spend several weeks in incubators but we are pleased to say the family is all home together again, and what a wonderfully happy family they are.
4Like Chalk And Cheese
James and Daniel are physically dissimilar, and they could hardly be any more like opposite in every other way if they tried. Born to Alyson and Errol Kelly in 1993 the twins were a stark contrast from the start.
"When James was born, he was the spitting image of Errol, and I remember seeing his curly hair and thinking – he's just like his dad. It was another two hours before Daniel was born: and what a surprise he was! He was so white and wrinkly, with this curly blond hair," said Alyson
"They were chalk and cheese, right from the word go, It was hard to believe they were even brothers, let alone twins."
James is the “outgoing academic one” who is gay and inherited his dad's physical characteristics.
Daniel is shy and doesn’t enjoy school, he s straight and has his mother's physical characteristics.
3The Midwives Were In The Know
When Mackenzie and Millie were born to parents Joanne and Larry, they were each born weighing a healthy 7lbs. Millie had jet black hair, and Mackenzie was bald, and although there was some difference in their skin tone, it wasn’t that noticeable at first.
“The midwives looked at their hands and showed me a brown line under all of Millie’s fingernails,” said Joanne. “Mackenzie didn’t have these brown lines, so they told me that he was going to be white-skinned but that Millie would be dark-skinned.”
Larry says: “It was such a shock when, after just a few months, the twins looked so different from each other. I would take them out, and no one would believe they were twins at all. I had a hard time convincing people that they were. When I take the twins to the playground, people ask me if Mackenzie is my son because they don’t believe it.”
2They Might End Up Similar
Just like the sisters earlier on our list, brothers Haidin and Gabriel have identical DNA but while in the womb Gabriel's jaw did not fully form leaving the twins looking very different. The boy's mom, Ramona was given the option to abort Gabriel, but as his disability was not life-threatening, she turned the doctors down.
The entire family will be traveling from their home in Alabama to New York where Gabriel will have surgery to correct the problems with his jaw; ‘I don’t know how my brother will look after the surgery, but I know he will be cool with whatever happens,’ says Haidin.
Ramona says, ‘I don’t want Gabriel to feel like this surgery is to make him look like Haidin – as if the way he looks now is wrong and Haidin is right. Yes, they’re identical, physically that’s true, chromosomally that’s true, but I somehow feel like I would have lost my son if they looked the same. Gabriel has always been the same person; he just looked different. I don’t know how to explain it, but I just know there is a part of me that feels that they don’t need to look alike.”
1Beat This Mix Of Genes
Last, but by no means least we come to Viviana and Dennis Ng, twins born to Irish/Hispanic mother, Ashley Ng and dad Kenika Ng who is African-American, Chinese, and Hawaiian.
Put that spectacular mixture of genes in the blender, and you get this pair of cuties.
Viviana has the light brown hair, pale skin and blue eyes of her mother and Dennis is his dad's “mini-me” with black hair, dark skin and brown eyes.
Ashley said in an interview that strangers are often confused when she says both children are hers and ask if they have the same fathers: "Some people are actually bold enough to ask that," Ashley said. "More than often, they ask if they were naturally conceived."
Dad Kenika has the same problem as other dads in this list; he is always asked if his daughter is a friends child or adopted.
2.kqed.org, verywell.com, msn.com, huffingtonpost.co.uk, insideedition.com, littlethings.com, wifewine.com, mom.me, dailymail.co.uk, trailblazersng.com, exploretalent.com, firstforwomen.com, dailymail.co.uk, lifedeathprizes.com, theguardian.com
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