Twins and multiples have always been fascinating to many of us. Their likeness for each other (sometimes identical), how bonded they are, how they know what the other twin feels without even talking to them – these are all things that make twins so special. And let's be real, we all low-key wanted a twin ever since we had seen The Parent Trap, am I right? And all those Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen movies! How amazing would it be to find out there's another person in the world who looks just like you?!
Twins were seen as something special even in the ancient times. They appear in many mythologies of various cultures around the world. In Greek mythology, a woman would sometimes conceive twins if she shared an intimate moment with a human and a god on the same day. In Hindu culture, God Vishnu has a twin brother avatar on earth. And of course, the famous Italian Romulus and Remus who were the founders of Rome.
Twins have always fascinated us because they are so unique and mysterious. That is why I decided to create this list of 20 facts about twins that some people probably never knew about. So what's the deal with these multiples? Find out below.
20 Twins Interact With Each Other In The Womb
Researchers from the University of Padova in Italy conducted a study on twins in 2011. They discovered twins in wombs actually interact with each other. According to Umberto Castiello, the lead researcher, twins started reaching for each other during the 14th week of pregnancy. By week 18, they touched each other more than they would touch their own bodies. The study had also shown that the twins were very gentle when touching each other and that, by week 18, they were spending up to 30% of their time reaching out and touching their co-twin.
19 Conjoined Twins Can Sometimes Feel and See What The Other One Does
Did you know that conjoined twins can sometimes actually see through the eyes of the other, or taste the food that the other one is eating? One journalist wrote a piece about two conjoined twins, Tatiana and Krista Hogan, whose brains are connected through the thalamic bridge
"[Their parents noticed] when one girl’s vision was angled away from the television, she was laughing at the images flashing in front of her sister’s eyes. The sensory exchange, [researchers] believe, extends to the girls’ taste buds: Krista likes ketchup, and Tatiana does not, something the family discovered when Tatiana tried to scrape the condiment off her own tongue, even when she was not eating it," said Susan Dominus, who writes for The New York Times.
18 What Is Gemellology?
Have you ever heard of gemellology before? I'll be honest and say that yesterday was the very first time I've heard this term. For those who don't know, the scientific study of twins and the phenomenon of twinning is known as gemellology. The term comes from Latin word 'gemellus', which means 'twin-born', and Greek λόγος (logos), which has several meanings, like "the study of", "reason" or "word".
Oh, and if you've ever wondered where the term 'twin' comes from, then you'll be happy to hear that it is probably derived from an old German word 'twine', which means 'two together'.
17 Fetuses That Share A Womb And A Birthday Aren't Always Twins
You see these two adorable babies in the photo above? Well, they were born on the same day, they share the same parents, but they're not twins. Crazy, right? If you're wondering how that's possible, allow me to explain: this occurs when a new, second pregnancy happens during an initial pregnancy because the mother's body keeps on releasing new eggs for fertilization, even though she's already pregnant. This interesting situation is called superfetation, and the chances of this happening are million-to-one.
16 Mothers of twins may live longer
A study conducted at the University of Utah revealed that women who have multiple pregnancies are more likely to have more children during their lifetime, have offspring closer together, and live longer, compared with women who had singletons.
Demographer and the study's lead researcher Ken. R. Smith said: "The prevailing view is that the burden of childbearing on women is heavier when bearing twins. But we found the opposite: women who naturally bear twins, in fact, live longer and are actually more fertile."
15 Twins Can Have Different Fathers
Siblings can have different fathers; that we know – which technically makes them half-siblings. But did you know that twins can also have different fathers? Yes, that's right! It's very simple when you think about it: this happens when two different eggs are fertilized by two different sperm, during the same ovulation period (for example, if a woman has intercourse with one man tonight, and then with another one tomorrow). In that case, those twins are 'bi-paternal.' This happens with animals as well, for example, dogs (and, usually, it's more than two fathers).
14 Probability Of Having Twins Is Much Higher Than It Was 30 Years Ago
In the period from 1915 until 1980, about 2% of all births were twins - in other words, one in 50 babies born was a twin. After 1980, the birthrate of twins started to increase - by 1995, 2.5% of all pregnancies were twins, and in 2010 the birthrate of twins hit 3.3%.
Why is that though? Well, it could be thanks to modern medicine and fertility treatments, which are known for increasing the odds of twin births. But it can also be because women are waiting longer before having kids, and the odds of twin births increase with age.
13 Identical Twins Do Not Have Identical Fingerprints
According to Verywellfamily.com, a fetus starts developing fingerprints in the early pregnancy, but even the slightest difference in the womb environment can affect the way fingerprints form. And of course, because there are small differences in the womb environment, the fingerprints won't be the same, but they will be similar.
However, their DNA is basically indistinguishable, which means that if one identical twin leaves their DNA at a crime scene, the lab won't be able to tell whose DNA that was.
12 Twins Develop Their Own Language
It's actually true - twins do develop their own language, and it is not an unusual thing. This phenomenon, also known as cryptophasia (derived from Greek words that mean 'secret' and 'speech') happens in twins' early childhood and they only speak in this language to each other. Invented languages, like this one, where only a few people can actually speak it, are also called autonomous languages or idioglossia.
In most cases, however, it is revealed that these secret languages are just mispronunciation of their mother tongue, but because twins are the only ones who can understand each other, they often continue using this language until their mother tongue gets good enough.
11 To Tell Twins Apart, Look At Their…
If you have ever met identical twins, then you know how difficult it can be to tell them apart. True, it does get easier as they grew older, but how to tell them apart when they're still young when they're still wearing matching clothes? Well, here's a life hack: to tell them apart, look at their belly buttons!
Why belly buttons? Because they're not caused by genetics, they are just scar tissue of the umbilical cord where the cord has detached.
10 Are Mirror Image Twins Real?
You've probably heard about mirror-image twins before, right? And if you've ever wondered if these twins are actually a thing, then you're in the right place.
Now, back to the question whether mirror-image twins - the answer to that is 'yes' and 'no'. Yes, because it can happen that twins develop reverse asymmetric features (birthmarks, hair whirls, left/right handedness, freckles etc.), and no, because mirror-image twins are not a real type of twins, it's just a name to describe their physical characteristics.
9 Fraternal Twinning Rates Vary Across Populations
Demographic studies have shown that fraternal twinning rates vary across different groups of people, different nationalities, ethnic and racial groups, etc. A research conducted in 2011 showed that the highest rates of twinning were found in African populations (Nigeria has the highest rate of twins in the world; chances of getting twins in Nigeria are four times higher than in the rest of the world), while the lowest rates of twinning were found in Asia and Latin America (China has the lowest rate of twins births; odds of having twins are 1 in 300).
8 Dogs Can Tell Apart Identical Twins
If you are having issues with telling identical twins apart, then you are in luck - a study conducted in the Czech Republic showed that dogs are capable of telling identical twins apart by their scent.
The study consisted of two sets of identical twins, two twin boys who were five years old, and two twin girls, seven years old. Two sets of fraternal twins were also used, twin boys, age 13, and twin girls, age 8. Each set of twins lived together in the same place and ate the same food. The researchers used ten German Shepherds in this study. The conclusion of the research, according to researcher Ludik Bartos, is that "dogs can discriminate the odor of identical twins, if well-trained."
7 Twins Can Turn Cousins Into Siblings
The odds of having identical twins are three in every 1,000 births, but imagine this - identical twins marry identical twins, and both couples have identical twin children... That sounds crazy and almost impossible, right? Well, the odds for this happening are millions-to-one, but it has happened before. And guess what, the two sets of twin children wouldn't actually be cousins, they'd be genetic siblings.
Think about it for a second, identical twins share the exact same genetic material. That means that both mothers are identical, and both fathers are identical, therefore the genetic result would be the same as if there were only one father and one mother.
6 Twins Can End Up Having Similar Lives, Even If They Grew Up Separately
These two ladies shown in the photo above are Jenny Lucas and Helen Edwards. They were separated at birth and did not know about each other until 2003. They lived with different families in different places, yet there are so many similarities between their lives. I mean, I don't even have to say anything, just take a look at the photo. Apart from sharing a physical resemblance, these two obviously share the love for the same breed of dogs and have the same taste in fashion.
"For twins to be separated at birth is hugely emotional, but it does partly explain the similarities between us - we were brought up differently but are so alike," said Helen, one of the twins.
5 Twins Are Twice As Likely To Be Lefties
In almost 21% of identical (monozygotic) twins, one twin is right-handed, and the other one is either left-handed or ambidextrous (able to use the right and left hand equally well). Considering that identical twins share identical genes, this is evidence that handedness is not a completely genetic trait but also influenced by other factors.
However, left-handedness is more common in twins than in singletons. Only about 10% entire population are left-handed, but about 22%% of twins are left-handed, which means twins are twice as likely to be lefties.
4 Twins Tend To Be Born Early
According to The March of Dimes, a nonprofit organisation that works to improve the health of mothers and babies, more than 50% of twin births, and about 90% of triplets and quadruplets were preterm births, compared to only 10% of preterm births of singletons.
Having a baby before the due date is a very common occurrence, it can happen to every mother, no matter how many babies she's carrying in her womb. But one thing is for sure, women carrying multiples do have a higher risk of preterm delivery.
3 Have You Ever Heard Of Vanishing Twin Syndrome?
Vanishing twin syndrome happens when a twin disappears in the womb during pregnancy as a result of a miscarriage of one or more multiples. The fetal tissue is absorbed either by the other twin, placenta, or the mother.
According to the statistics, 5-20% of all twin pregnancies will end up in a miscarriage of one or more fetuses. According to some estimates, Vanishing Twin Syndrome occurs in 50% of assisted conception pregnancies. Some risk factors for vanishing twin syndrome are maternal age and sharing a placenta between monochorionic monozygotic twins.
2 Having Twins Isn't Always Good For The Mother
Mothers of twins and multiples are at higher risk of developing certain medical conditions that mothers of singletons usually don't get. These health risks are very much real and serious, some of them can even be lethal, so if you're having twins or multiples, there is reason for concern, and you should always be cautious and get regular check-ups.
Some of the health issues mothers of twins are prone to are gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, postpartum hemorrhage, and postpartum depression.
1 Thanks To Modern Medicine, Twins Can Be Born Years Apart
In the photo above you can see husband and wife, Katie and Matthew Preston, with their triplets, Ethan, Isabel, and Arthur. Yes, you read that right.
Katie Preston had been trying IVF treatments for five years, but they were all unsuccessful. She was later referred to Midland Fertility Clinic where she successfully went through a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The result of ICSI was five eggs from the same cycle being fertilized and frozen. One was injected into her uterus immediately while the rest remained frozen. Two years later Katie used two more of the frozen eggs and she got the twins.
Sources: list25.com, nytimes.com, medicalexpress.com, books.google.nl, babycenter.com, dailymail.co.uk, sciencedaily.com, twins.org.au, babbel.com, bbc.co.uk, livescience.com, parade.com, huffingtonpost.co.uk, wstwinregistry.org, babycenter.com, verywellfamily.com, babycenter.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk