Twins, but definitely not identical

Filed under: Babies, Your Pregnancy, Siblings

When I was in high school, I hung around with a couple of brothers who, I found out later, happened to be adopted and genetically unrelated. This floored me and the rest of the gang, not because we saw anything bad about it or anything, but because we all swore that they looked so much alike they had to be related. After studying their faces and pondering it, we realized that it was the way they spoke, their expressions, their mannerisms that were identical and that was enough to make them obviously brothers.

In Australia, two little twin girls were born recently who will likely have to rely on such acquired similarities to convince people that they are twins. You see, one is black and the other white. It's not quite the miracle the Daily Telegraph called it, but it is unusual. The mother is Jamaican-English and the father is German, and they already have a five-year-old daughter with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a light olive skin tone. Twin Alicia has brown eyes, dark hair, and dark skin while her sister Jasmin has blue eyes, white hair, and white skin.

Of course, skin color is not the most striking difference fraternal twins can have -- quite often one will be a boy while the other a girl (a far more significant difference, if you ask me!) This, however, is much more uncommon. Generally, a mixed-race woman's eggs will have genes for a mix of skin colors. Occasionally, however, most of the genes in an egg may be for one skin color. That's what happened here, only it was two eggs and they each had a majority of genes for different skin tones. Nothing miraculous, but pretty darn rare.

Sometimes, you get what you ask for. Their mother noted that "We were joking when I was pregnant about what if one baby looked like me and one looked like Michael. We joked about one light one, one dark one, so it was amazing when it actually happened." Of course, in the grand scheme of things skin, hair, and eye color aren't important. I'm sure that as they grow up, their friends will have to look twice to see any differences, just as I did with my high school friends. As the mother put it, "Someone even asked me if I was sure there wasn't a mix-up at the hospital. But there was no mix-up - they are my girls and they are both so beautiful."

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