Seeing (almost) Double
Recently I saw a National Geographic documentary entitled Twins in the Womb. I thought it was quite amazing for a number of reasons. The ultrasound technician knew they were identical because they shared a single placenta (I didn’t know twins had that option). That’s normal and nothing new however if problems develop when twins share a single placenta a condition known as TTTS (Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome) occurs. TTTS is a pretty worrisome condition especially in its extreme.
What happens is one twin develops a normal umbilical cord that is attached to the placenta. The second twin does not. Instead an artery branches off the first twin’s cord and this feeds the second twin, a rather parasitic concept if you will. There are many issues surrounding this unusual development:
- The first twin gets most of the incoming nutrient-rich blood since it is closer to the placenta than the second
- The artery that joins the second twin to the first doesn’t return blood to the first twin
- One twin gets too much blood and the other doesn’t get enough
- The twins are born or induced very prematurely as a result
- Birth weights, if both babies survive, are succinctly different and there may be other complications in both babies
- The smaller, less nourished twin may take years to catch up in size and social development to the other twin, or this may not happen at all
The distinct differences in the two, although clearly exaggerated in this type of fetal development, happens on a regular basis with healthy identical twins. Researchers insist there really is no such thing as totally identical people since there are subtle differences physically that can distinguish the two from one another. What’s more these differences become much more obvious with age. For that reason identical twins are referred to as monozygotic, meaning they each develop from one (mono) fertilized egg (zygote). The epigenetics of monozygotic twins explains why this phenomenon occurs.
It’s difficult to tell the differences in young identicals especially when they are dressed the same. However as twins age physical differences become more obvious: one twin may gain or lose weight, one twin may be taller than the other, one twin may find his hair thinning more than the other. Over time it becomes quite easy to distinguish who is whom.
Fortunately for law enforcement officials one thing twins do not share is fingerprints. Each twin has her own genetic code defining her prints so if one commits a crime the other can be exonerated on the basis of fingerprints. This incredible phenomenon is an example of a phenotype — meaning that it is determined by the interaction of an indivdual’s genes and the developmental urterine environment.
Fingerprints are influenced by environmental factors during pregnancy, like nutrition, blood pressure, position in the womb and the growth rate of the fingers. There are similar patterns of whorls and ridges in the fingerprints of identical twins but there are differences.
There are other ways to distinguish differences in monozygotic twins: behaviour and interests. Listening to the tone of the twins`voices can reveal a clipped speech pattern in one but not the other. Certain gestures and facial expressions such as twitches and tics may only present in one twin. And often one person is more passive in nature than the other.
Just as interestingly it is (almost) possible for male and female twins to be identical. It works like this:
- Identical twins are the same gender because they form from a single zygote that contains either male (XY) or female (XX) sex chromosomes.
- Very rarely there are cases of a genetic mutation in male twins where one twin loses a Y chromosome and develops as a female.
- The female twin is afflicted with Turner Syndrome, characterized by short stature and lack of ovarian development.
Just as incredibly it is possible for one woman to give birth to one black twin and one white twin of the same gender, in other words “ìdentical“ yet of a different race. How is this possible?
A woman may release two eggs in the same week, have sex with two different men of different races and in an extremely rare chance become pregnant by both men. Another way a woman can birth twins of different races is an obscure genetic link previously undiscovered in the family lineage, whether hers or that of the father. A genetic mutation during the fertilization of the egg likely has an influence on this rare situation.
The foundation of evolution is not just working DNA but changing DNA. The primary mechanism of significant change in DNA is mutation. In addition, many of the mechanisms of mutation can lead to drastic changes in an organism. It’s a similar concept as in creating words. Changing just one letter may create a word with a completely different meaning. Once the new genetic code is established this pattern repeats itself and the resulting unusual infant is born into the family. Watch a demonstration of this gene splicing in the Recombinant DNA video below.
In fact it is generally thought that genetic mutation was the origin of caucasian (white) skin. All human life began in South Africa. Needless to say everyone was black skinned but somehow through genetic mutation a family produced a white infant. That person’s offspring thrived as humans moved northward into Europe, giving rise to the lightest of the world’s races. That too may explain how it is possible that a woman could birth twins of two different races.
Perhaps the most bizarre documentary I viewed explored the supposed genetic engineering of twins by Josef Mengele in the town of Candido Godoi, Berlin. For mysterious reasons many families of blonde-haired blue-eyed identical children populate the small town where Mengele hid once he was on the run after the end of WWII. The documentary, National Geograghic-Mengele A Small Part of a Long Legacy, depicts researchers reviewing pages of Mengele’s notes about his experiments with unfortunate twins imprisoned at Auschwitz. However the notes were discovered to be nothing more than the inane ramblings of a madman, revealing nothing that suggested knowledge of genetic engineering. Yet even if he wasn’t able to continue with his brutal experiments, it is easy to imagine Mengele’s twisted delight at finding himself in a town of identical twins. The strange rumour Jorge Camarasa, an Argentinean researcher, began about Mengele engineering Ayran twins in Berlin was put to rest through indisputable evidence presented in the film. What some people won’t do for their 15 minutes of fame.
Watch Video Recombinant DNA (2004) Demonstratives Inc.
Watch Video Who Were Our Ancestors? Genetic History of Europe – DNA – Truth or Machination?
Watch Video Human Mutations – Skin Pigments
Read American Renaissance News: Black Parents…White Baby
Watch Video National Geographic In the Womb Trailer
Watch Video Candido Godoi – The Land of Twins
Watch Video Stuck Together Torn Apart
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