For those who may not be aware, identical twins practically develop from a single egg fertilised by a single sperm which eventually splits into two embryos. On the other hand, non-identical twins or fraternal twins develop from two different eggs, fertilised by two distinct sperm cells. But, do identical twins have identical DNA?
Well, at least this is what the world has believed till date. However, recent studies have shown that twins who start developing with identical DNAs, actually have a slightly different DNA by the time they develop in their mother’s womb. This is because the original egg divides once or more, leading to two clumps of cell splits, each of which goes on to become one of the twins. As these clumps of cells develop to form new babies, they divide over and over again. In this process of exponential division, they give rise to DNA differences and even mutations.
That being said, in most cases, this difference is rather miniscule and doesn’t impact the way these identical twins look. In fact, most identical twins have similar skin and eye color and even similar hair type, but, this isn’t the case always. As the DNA’s divide, each child may be bestowed with different genes that can impact a lot of physical features. So, if you are blessed with twins who may look the same but have different skin colors or hair quality, do not worry.
One of the most recent cases proving this is the birth of identical twins in the UK in early 2016. While one child was born with dark skin, black hair and brown eyes, the other had fair skin, blue eyes, and mousy curls. The difference in the two is literally stark, almost as if they are non-identical twins. In such cases, it is often seen that the twin flaunt distinct skin colors as well as different type of hair. In fact, the hair problems they deal with might be different too. While one of the twins may have long and thick hair, the other might exhibit incessant hair fall, so much so that it gives way to the need for hair transplantation.
This may come as a bit of a shock to those pairs of twins of which one of the siblings had been contemplating to receive a donor graft from the other, for the purpose of hair transplant. For all we know, the difference in the protein structures of the hair follicles might lead the immune system to reject the transplant.
In some cases, though, such difference in twins may also arise due to the difference in their environment, climate, location, etc. Here, it may be possible for one twin to donate a graft to the other who is experiencing balding. But, if you have a twin and if any one of you is planning to opt for a hair transplantation treatment, it is advisable to consult a hair specialist before you reach any conclusion.
As the name suggests, identical twins are identical in all forms possible. Researchers say that the DNA of identical twins is exactly the same, so it's tough to differentiate. This statement does reflect that identical twins have the same hair color. Perhaps! It is not always the case. During DNA division, each child among the two can be conveyed with different genes that can result in different physical features.
Although a wide range of differences is seen in fraternal twins, identical towns are mostly the same- such as identical skin, hair, and even eye color. But exceptions do exist: twins with identical DNA can also show variations by the time they are born, which may result in different hair.
It is not necessarily important for fraternal twins to have different hair colors, unlike monozygotic or identical twins. The DNA strands of fraternal twins are different, which will show different hair colors. However, in some cases, fraternal twins are detected with identical hair color or other identical physical characteristics.
Dr. Gaurang Krishna
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