The Creepy Creepy World of Creepy Twins

I’m legally required to include this photo, as decreed by Creepy Twin Union Local 1069.

Yes, they ARE telepathically judging you

In this article, we explore some of the more fascinating science about twins.  And by fascinating I mean CREEPY.  If you happen to be a twin, please don’t be offended by this article and destroy me with your laser eyes or melt my brain within my skull from thousands of miles away.  And if you aren’t a twin, you’ll soon come to realize that you PROBABLY USED TO BE A TWIN.  Let’s get started.

You probably know that identical twins come about when a single fertilized egg, on its way to becoming an embryo, splits in two to create two separate but genetically identical people.  Creepy, eh?  Well, you probably figure you should be slightly less creeped out by fraternal twins, right?  Fraternal twins come from two completely separate fertilized eggs that happen to form at the same time, so they’re essentially regular siblings who decided to get born at the same time.  Weird, but not as creepy as identical twins, right?  Right, unless the fraternal twins DECIDE TO MERGE TOGETHER.  In what is essentially the opposite of identical twins forming, and at least 100 times creepier, a pair of zygotes destined to become fraternal twins can actually merge together to form a single embryo.  That embryo will grow up to be a normal healthy person, but is a blend of cells from TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE.  Kind of like a conjoined twin, but the twins are MIXED AT THE CELLULAR LEVEL.  This fascinating person is called a *genetic chimera*.

“Don’t mind us, we just like to stare…”

The resulting person will seem pretty much normal — after all, the two twins were very similar genetically.  The two zygotes join forces (holding their little zygote power rings together, intoning “Form of: Creepy As Hell“) to create a perfectly-normal embryo, and everything in the resulting development works just fine.  The only way you might notice is if the two twins would have grown up to look differently, say different colored eyes — in that case, the chimeric person might have two different color eyes, or an eye with patches of different colors.  If you suspect you might be a chimera, you might then embark on DNA testing, and find that different parts of your body have DIFFERENT GENETIC PROFILES.

(I’m sorry for abusing the capslock in this article, but THIS IS FREAKING ME THE FREAK OUT.)  You are basically a mosaic of pieces from TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE.

While I’m playing up the creepiness for comedic purposes, this generally isn’t a problem for the chimeric person.  Even if you happen to eventually notice you’re a chimera, it likely won’t cause any practical problems for you.  About the only issue that may come up is if you need DNA testing done, say for paternity testing.  Or maternity testing, as the unlucky Lydia Fairchild found out, when DNA testing seemed to indicate she wasn’t the mother of her own children.

The important thing to remember here is that YOU COULD BE ONE OF THESE FREAKS — since there usually is no obvious sign unless you happen to DNA test every square inch of your body, the majority of chimeric people probably never know it.

But let’s not let identical twins off the hook in the realm of creepiness.  Occasional twin pairs will be physical MIRROR IMAGES OF EACH OTHER — one will be right-handed, the other left-handed, their hair parts will be on opposite sides, and ONE WILL HAVE INTERNAL ORGANS ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THEIR BODY.  You don’t actually have to be a twin to have mirror-image reversed organ positions — even non-twins will occasionally have this.  But I think it amps up the creepiness factor to consider mirror-imaged twins.  Folks with this condition (scientifically called “situs inversus”) generally don’t have any medical issues as a result, and in fact may not even realize it until they need to have some medical procedure done.  Apparently about 25% of twins have some mirror-imaging, though not nearly this many have internal organ mirroring — it could be something as simple as how their hair parts.

Again, it’s important to remember that YOU COULD BE ONE OF THEM.

We mentioned conjoined twins a few paragraphs back.  Another creepy area is the case of the Vanishing Twin, or a twin who fails to develop (for whatever reason) very early on in pregnancy, and winds up being reabsorbed without a trace while the other twin develops normally.  This may be relatively common, since it could all go down before the first fetal ultrasound, and so the resulting birth would seem like a normal single-baby birth.  It might even be more common than healthy twin births.  In fact, cases of people who are internal-organ-mirror-image-reversed but aren’t twins, might be the remaining survivor of a mirror-image twin pair.   And they clearly know more about what went on in that womb than they’re letting on.

While I won’t get into the widely-documented area of conjoined twins or vestigial twins, I will mention the curious and toe-cringing case of fetus papyraceus, in which the failed embryonic twin doesn’t quite disappear, instead sticking around and gradually getting flattened to a “parchment-like state” by the viable twin as it grows in the uterus.  Because I have a vestigial sense of decency, I won’t include the photo from that link here on this page.  But if you do follow the link to see the image, try to forget it the next time you head out for pho.  Specifically, try to put the image of fetus papyraceus out of your mind, as you stir your hot pho soup, a soup that may contain any number of unidentifiable small flat objects.

Once again, the point I want you to take away from this is that YOU COULD HAVE HAD A TWIN THAT VANISHED EARLY ON, THAT YOU *ABSORBED*.  In fact, given all the weird twinning issues that don’t leave a telltale sign, I’d wager to say chances are excellent that YOU ARE IN AT LEAST ONE OF THESE CATEGORIES, MAYBE ALL OF THEM.

And so I’d just like to thank you both for visiting my blog post, I hope you enjoyed it equally, and now PLEASE GET OFF MY PAGE EWWWWWWW AGGGGHGHGHGHGHGHHHH  *Washes self with handiwipes*

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