Twins have always intrigued us. From Esau and Jacob in Genesis to Barbara and Jenna Bush in the White House, we have always been fascinated by twins. I’m your host Steve…
I’m Leah and today Stew features curious stories all about those curious, genetic dopplegangers.
<L> Today’s episode was suggested by one of our loyal listeners, Tanya Smith. She says that she thinks twins are fascinating and I have to agree. I remember having triple girls in my kindergarten class and how drawn to them everyone was. We ALL had dreams of being a twin or triplet after having met them. The poor girls endured all kinds of intrusive questions from their classmates.
<S> In my hometown I went through all twelve years of school with Diane and Jan Forest who were very pretty identical twins. Seeing them together was always fascinating to me, not just because they were pretty. I always wondered what it would be like to have another human being who looked exactly like you.
I actually have twin stepdaughters! My wife’s youngest daughters Sarah and Laura are identical mirror image twins. They are identical, but they are mirror images. This happens when the fertilized egg divides in such a way that the two halves are opposite. Laura is left-handed and Sarah is right. My wife told me that their teeth came in on opposite sides of their mouths and also that they lost their baby teeth in the same manner. If the two of them are together I can tell them apart, but if I just see one of them, well, I have been fooled.
The stories about identical twins are fascinating. Sarah and Laura have told me that they have had the same dream and can often share similar tastes and instincts. Just last week they both showed up at our house wearing the same pair of new shoes, and No, they didn’t go shopping together. They are both married now with children of their own – no twins. Even though they now live in different states they are still very close to each other and they take very similar approaches to raising their children. They both drive Honda Odyssey “Mommy Vans” But they do have differences as well. One likes pink and the other prefers purple.
Well there are a lot of interesting Twin Tales out there, so let’s dive in.
We will start off with some tales of twins who were separated at birth. These first two stories come to us from a very funny article located on cracked.com written by Jamie Flexman who has given us permission to quote the article directly to you. Thank you Jamie!
TWINS SEPARATED AT BIRTH
JAMES AND JAMES: Twins can be freaky, but we all understand why they're so disturbingly alike: Not only do they share the same DNA, but they also tend to grow up surrounded by the same people, playing with the same toys, and doing the same activities. They were most likely traumatized by the same cartoons and disappointed by the same birthday presents. It's when they don't do any of those things and still turn out exactly the same that you should be freaked out.
Take Ohio resident James Edward Lewis, who married a woman named Linda, but divorced her and married a woman named Betty, with whom he had a son named James Alan. Lewis had been adopted as a baby, and when he was in his late 30s, he tracked down and met for the very first time his twin brother, James Arthur Springer ... who married a woman named Linda, but divorced her and married a woman named Betty, with whom he had a son named James Allen.
After this story was first reported by the press in 1979, James and James (both of their adoptive parents named them James) were contacted by psychologist Thomas Bouchard, who wanted to study how similar twins can be despite growing up apart. It turns out the twins had even more similarities: They both had dogs named Toy as kids. They both liked math and carpentry in school but hated spelling. They both loved woodworking. They both had jobs in law enforcement -- Springer as a deputy sheriff and Lewis as a security guard. They both got headaches at the same time of day. Both drank the same beer, smoked the same cigarettes, and drove the same Chevrolet.
Separated and then Reunited Twins https://allthatsinteresting.com/jim-twins
OSKAR & JACK: And then there is the very strange story of Oskar Stohr and Jack Yufe who were also separated as babies, only this was in Europe, and in the 1930s. Stohr grew up in Germany and joined the Hitler Youth. Yufe was raised a Jew and moved to Israel. One drew swastikas in his notebooks; the other wore a yarmulke.
And yet, despite being as different as two human beings can be, when they met in their 50s they found that they spoke alike, liked the same foods, and shared oddly specific habits, like wearing rubber bands on their wrists or flushing the toilet before using it.
Experts think that this isn't so weird: Stohr and Yufe are genetically identical, so it's normal that they should react the same way when exposed to the same everyday experiences (foods, rubber bands, toilets). The fact that one was Jewish and the other a former Hitler fan is irrelevant, genetically speaking.
PAULA & ELYSE: Despite being separated at birth and adopted by separate parents, sisters Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein lived similar lives. They both edited their high school newspapers, studied film in college, and became writers. But the identical twins didn't know any of this until they met for the first time in 2003 at the age of 35. What they also found was that their separation was deliberate, part of a controversial study on nurture vs. nature. The truth of their separation was hidden from their adoptive parents, and the lead scientist ended up stashing the research in a Yale University archive knowing that it would be criticized. While we don't know his take on the nature vs. nurture debate (or exactly how he tracked the lives of Bernstein and Schein), the twins have come to their own conclusions. "Since meeting Elyse, it is undeniable that genetics play a huge role — probably more than 50 percent," Bernstein says. "It's not just our taste in music or books; it goes beyond that. In her, I see the same basic personality. And yet, eventually we had to realize that we're different people with different life histories."
NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT SOME OTHER TWIN TALES
TWINS MARRY TWINS: There’s the case of Craig and Mark Sanders, twin brothers who in 1998 were attending the annual Twins Day Festival in (of course) Twinsburg, Ohio. There they met and hit it off with Dianne and Darlene Nettemeier, twin sisters. The two pairs of twins started going on double dates together. Craig and Diane – Mark and Darlene. While attending a baseball game the couples even shared first kisses. (Of course, if one couple kissed, the other couple would have to kiss too or it would just be really awkward!) Once while on a double date to a casino, the couples won several thousand dollars. They took that as a sign that they should all get engaged – I mean Craig and Diane got engaged and so did Mark and Darlene. They got married in a joint ceremony and then moved into adjacent houses in Texas. Diane and Craig gave birth to twin boys. Mark and Darlene have two non-twin girls and a boy. Genetically speaking, their children are brothers and sisters as well as double cousins.
10 Incredible True Stories About Twins - Listverse
<L> 2 WOMBS, 3 BABIES: Hannah Kersey of Northam, England, was born with uterus didelphys, a malformation of the reproductive organs that resulted in her having two wombs. While this is known to affect one in three thousand women, the odds of giving birth to three healthy girls from two separate wombs are twenty-five million to one. But in December 2006, Hannah did exactly that. Identical twins Ruby and Tilly were delivered from one womb, while their fraternal twin-sister Grace was delivered from the other. While simultaneous gestation of the two wombs in women with uterus didelphys can happen (at least seventy cases have been recorded so far), Kersey’s triplet birth was a medical first.
TWIN SCHOOL Speaking of England, a middle school in Lincolnshire, England, has a record-breaking 20 sets of twins in attendance. The school blew the previous record holder (because, of course, Guinness keeps tracks of this kind of thing) out of the water by 12 sets. Most incredibly, the school welcomed not one or two sets of identical twins this past September, but six, all of whom started grade seven. Since the school requires students to dress in identical blue and white uniforms, it's proven difficult for the teachers to tell the siblings apart. "We are looking to get little name badges for their blazer lapels so we can tell who is who," says one teacher. And when asked to explain the school's twin-filled seventh grade class, baffled educators resorted to blaming it on "something in the water." <S>(A few years ago, I had identical twin sisters but in different classes. It took me nearly a month to realize that they weren’t the same person!)
<S>TWO SETS OF TWINS: Stephen and LeAnn Beloyan had been trying to get pregnant for a long time, but without success. After undergoing in vitro fertilization they were thrilled to learn that LeAnn was pregnant. Several weeks into the pregnancy the Beloyan’s were very surprised to learn that they were going to be parents of not one, but two pairs of twins! The big day arrived on June 7, 2005 as LeAnn gave birth to Lauren, Sarah, Benjamin, and Samuel who were born in that order, all within four minutes.
TWINS GIVE BIRTH ON THE SAME DAY It was an especially exciting New Year's for twin sisters Aimee and Ashlee Nelson, who gave birth to their respective sons within a two-hour span in an Akron, Ohio, hospital. They didn't expect this. In fact, their due dates were about a week apart. But after Aimee called her mom at 4 a.m. on Dec. 31 to say she was headed to the hospital, her sister's call came just two hours later. Aimee's son, Donavyn, arrived first at 12:11 p.m. on New Year's Eve, and his cousin, Aiden, followed at 2:03 p.m.
TWINS DIE ON THE SAME DAY In 2002, a pair of seventy-three-year-old twins were killed on a road in Finland. There’s nothing unusual at all about that at a first glance, until you find out that they were killed separately, within two hours of each other. The first of the twins was hit by a truck and killed while he was cycling along the road. Two hours later, his brother died in exactly the same way. (No, not the same truck) To make matters even more odd, police had not yet informed the second twin of his brother’s death (which means that he wasn’t merely trying to follow him to the grave).
From 24/7 wallst.com comes an article about celebrity twins. In fact, they list the 30 most famous identical twins. I’m not going to go through all of them, but some of these perhaps you didn’t know were twins. I certainly did not.
NAPOLEON DYNAMITE: Even the biggest fans of the 2004 hit movie Napoleon Dynamite might not know that twins are a major part of this picture. Jon Heder who plays the title character Napoleon has an identical twin brother named Dan. The two talented and hilarious identical twins grew up in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Jon has had more than 70 acting credits including starring in The Benchwarmers, Blades of Glory, and Just Like Heaven. Dan is not an actor, but he is involved in motion pictures in visual animation and special effects most notably in the Guardians of the Galaxy series.
But wait, there’s more. Another one of the main characters in Napoleon Dynamite was played by actor Efren Ramirez. You might be able to guess that Efren played Napoleon’s friend Pedro Sanchez as in “Vote for Pedro”. Efren has also appeared in several TV shows including ER and Scrubs. Efren and his twin brother Carlos grew up in Los Angeles. As a child actor, Carlos appeared in The Love Boat and Twilight Zone. Carlos also served in the Air Force.
JIMMY AND JEY USO Now I don’t know how up you are on your WWE trivia, but if you are even a casual fan you have likely heard of Jimmy and Jey Uso who are a tag team in the WWE. Their father, not a twin, was also a wrestler named Rikishi. They have won the WWE tag team championship and the Slammy Award for tag team of the year twice. However, the Usos are not the only WWE twin attractions.
BRIE AND NIKKI BELLA are women WWE tag team stars and identical twins. They became famous in 2008 when they pulled a switcharoo during the middle of a match. You see Brie was being worn down by another lady wrestler named Victoria. At one point Victoria pushed Brie under the bottom rope and out of the ring. Brie then rolls under the ring but then suddenly re-emerges full of energy. She hops back into the ring and quickly subdues her opponent. Of course the instant replay shows that it was really Nikki who emerged from under the ring in place of Brie. This maneuver became known as “Twin Magic!” The Bella Twins have gained even more fame staring in the E Network show Total Divas.
Some other notable celebrity twins include:
RONDE AND TIKI BARBER who both had very successful football careers in the NFL. Both were named All-Pro multiple times.
JULIAN AND JOAQUIN CASTRO who are both in politics. Joaquin is a U.S. Congressman from Texas and his brother Julian was the Mayor of San Antonio, Texas and then served as Secretary of HUD under President Obama.
MARK AND SCOTT KELLY who were both Astronauts. Their status as twins helped researcher investigate the long-term effects of space travel as Scott spent a year on the International Space Station while Mark stayed on the ground. Mark was elected to the U.S. Senate from Arizona in 2020.
<L> Because of the NASA study a lot of stories state that it’s amazing that Scott’s DNA mutated so that it is no longer identical to Mark’s. The less sensational truth is that even though they are identical twins Mark and Scott didn’t have identical DNA even before Scott went into space. Their chromosomal make-up (or their DNA coding) started out identical but the DNA strand depends on much more than just genetics. Nutrition and environment has an impact on DNA even during development in the womb. No two humans have the exact same experience and with identical twins they don’t receive the same amount of blood flow or nutrition. Every human being that has ever lived has had unique DNA.
The environment in space has made unique changes to Scott’s DNA though but it’s far too in-depth scientifically to go into here. We suggest you look into it and read up on it yourself.
<S>CAMILLA AND REBECCA ROSSO who appear as twins Janice and Jessica on the Disney TV series The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. They were chosen for the roles when executive producers of the show picked them out of the audience during a live taping of the program.
And of course, Dylan and Cole Sprouse are twins that play Zach and Cody.
RAMI AND SAMI MALEK. Rami is an actor who won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of rocker Freddie Mercury in the 2019 movie Bohemian Rhapsody. He also won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in the TV drama Mr. Robot. He has appeared in several movies and TV shows including Gilmore Girls and Night at the Museum. But in my opinion, his brother Sami is even more talented as he is an English teacher at a middle school in Los Angeles. (Being a middle school teacher is a super power!)
One infamous pair of identical twins noted in this article were RONNIE AND REGGIE KARY who were born in London in 1933. The Kray twins were notorious gangsters in the 1950s and 60s. The established a gang in London’s East End called The Firm which was involved in arson, armed robbery, racketeering, and murder. They both received life prison sentences for murder in 1968. Ronnie died in prison in 1995. Reggie had become a born-again Christian while in prison. He was released in 2000 on compassionate grounds as he was suffering from terminal bladder cancer. He died at home soon thereafter.
<L>JAMES & OLIVER PHELPS My favorite celebrity twins are James and Oliver Phelps, the twins that played Fred and George in the Harry Potter movies. Did you know that they are not actual redheads? They had their hair—and their eyebrows—dyed so they could blend into Weasley clan. When one fan asked him what the best and worst parts of working with his brother were, Oliver said, “The best thing about working with your brother is, if you’re late, you can blame someone else. The worst thing about working with your brother is that if he’s late, he can blame someone else.”
- Fraternal – two eggs. Just like regular siblings but shared the womb
- Identical – one fertilized egg that separates into two babies. Same genetic make-up, same sex.
DIFFERENT RACES In 1997 Donna Douglas gave birth to healthy twin baby girls but did a double take when she looked at them for the first time. Donna is half-Jamaican, and her husband is white. One of the twin girls, Lucy, had fair skin like her father and the other twin, Maria, had dark skin like her mother. As they grew, their difference in looks became even more evident as Lucy’s hair was red and Maria’s hair was black and her skin darkened even more to a caramel color.
Lucy talking about her mother on the day she and her sister were born, “It was such a shock for her because obviously things like skin color don’t show up on scans before birth, So she had no idea that we were so different. When the midwife handed us both to her, she was just speechless.”
“We were in the same class at infant school, but no one ever had a problem telling us apart,” she explained. “Most twins look like two peas in a pod — but Maria and I couldn’t look more different if we tried. We don’t even look like we have the same parents, let alone having been born at the same.”
They have three siblings, who all have mixed skin color.
“All our older brothers and sisters have a skin color which is in between Maria and I,” Lucy said. “We are at opposite ends of the spectrum and they are all somewhere in between.”
Lucy says one of the great things about having a twin who looks completely different is that people don’t mistake them for one another.
Their personalities are also very different as well. In college Lucy studied art and design and Maria studied law and psychology.
CONJOINED TWINS are twins that are physically connected to each other. It is a rare occurrence that is not understood completely. Some scientists say it happens when an egg doesn’t split completely, other scientists say that the egg splits completely but then fuses back together. Whatever the cause conjoined twins are always identical, the location of their fusion varies but is usually in the abdomen or trunk area, the extent of the fusion varies, and unfortunately most conjoined twins do not survive long after being born. But advances in medicine have helped many to not only survive but in some unique cases, to also be successfully separated.
Have you ever heard conjoined twins called by the name of Siamese twins? That is thanks to Chang and Eng Bunker, the first conjoined twins that were well known around the world.
CHANG AND ENG were born in 1811 in a Chinese community in Siam, or what is now called Thailand. The boys were 17 years old when a Scottish doctor discovered them and brought to them to America where they began to tour and charge people to see their “Freak show.” They were connected through such a thin thread that they could do almost anything normal men could do – and quite a few most could not. They would perform backflips and somersaults together, showcase a repertoire of wit, or just stand on display and answer any questions the audience had.
When they were 21 they struck out on their own and ran their own show for another 7 or 8 years making quite a bit of money. They tired of being gawked at however and retired from the freak show business deciding to try and live normal lives.
The men bought land and settled in North Carolina where they met and married two sisters. Their married life was one for quite a bit of speculation and scandal, but the two couples didn’t let it bother them, they just wanted to live as normal lives as possible. Combined, the brothers had 21 children.
Against the odds, Chang and Eng lived quite a long time for conjoined twins. In January of 1874, Eng woke up to find his brother dead. According to AllThatsInteresting.com, One of Eng’s son rushed in, alarmed by his father’s cries, and tried to help him wake Chang up. But nothing would work.
“Uncle Chang is dead,” the boy declared at last.
“Then I am going,” Eng told his son. Within three hours Eng was indeed dead. In his final moments, he asked his son to help him pull his brother’s body as close to him as he could. The Siamese twins were 63.
An examination after their death concluded that Chang and Eng, while conjoined by just a small part of their anatomy could not have ever been successfully separated as they had shared a liver.
CHIMERISM There’s another type of twin that is not readily apparent to the casual observer because it results in only one human being. That would be Chimerism. That’s when the split of an egg happens to produce twins but for some unknown reason fuses back together again to form just one baby. While a rare occurrence, it’s not really known how often this happens because it takes a pretty unique set circumstances to figure it out. In cases of Chimerism an individual will have two separate sets of DNA. That’s right, while identical twins have identical sets of chromosomes they do each have unique sets of DNA and so someone with chimerism may have some organs with certain DNA sequencing while other organs belong to the other twin and has different DNA
One case that brought this to light is when KAREN KEEGAN needed a kidney transplant in 2002. Her family including her three grown sons were tested to see if they would be matches and it was discovered that two of her sons could not be her biological children. The medical mystery was solved when doctors figured out that Karen’s womb had a different DNA sequence than that of her blood. She was her own twin.
Chimerism can also occur when a person receives bone marrow or and organ from another person. The DNA of the donated organ or marrow doesn’t stay put but migrates to other body parts. Genetics is a fascinating and deep subject but that’s where we are going end our dive into it today.
13 Insane Identical Twin Stories That Are Almost Too Funny To Believe | LittleThings.com
<S>FUNNY TWIN STORIES A friend and his wife go to the same supermarket every week. His identical twin also goes there, with his wife. One day, after summoning up the courage, the cashier pulls my friend's wife aside and says: 'I'm sorry to have to tell you this but I've seen your husband here several times with another woman.
My friend said 'Hi' to his brother one morning. Well, it turns out his brother was actually his own reflection in a window. His mom witnessed it and has never let him live it down
I joined the Peace Corps shortly after my identical twin brother became a Marine officer. I worked as a teacher in Eastern Europe. Over drinks at a dinner during my service with friends of my host family, one of the gentlemen used to be a Soviet helicopter pilot and asks me if I'd like to see his uniform. We're almost exactly the same size, and he lets me try it on. Thinking how cool this is, I post a picture online wearing it to show everyone. "My brother calls me a few days later really upset because during his screening for a security clearance someone finds pictures of him wearing perfectly tailored Soviet regalia. He yells at me for getting him into trouble and complains that he might get his clearance postponed.
My twin sons work at McDonalds. The manager likes to put one on the pay window and the other on the food window just to mess with customers."
Me and my twin brother were in the same high school economics class. Everyone in the class thought he was funny, but I was more quiet and polite. One day we switched seats. He was being his usual annoying self and getting destroyed by the teacher. She didn't think he was funny at all. At the end of class he says to me, 'Wow, she really hates you!'
"My twin brother and I once used our identicalness at a church Christmas party. My brother was supposed to play Santa, so he goes off to 'find him'. I'm in the building, and I put on the Santa suit. I go into the party (most of my brother's church hadn't met me) and the kids all think they know who I am. "Five or ten minutes later my brother comes in saying 'Sorry guys, I couldn't find the costume...' and then all the kids lose their minds." —
<L> Remnant Stew is created by me, Leah Lamp. Dr. Steven Meeker and I research, write and host each episode. Audio is produced by Phillip Sinquefield. Our theme music is by Kevin MacLeod with voiceover by Morgan Hughes.
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