Posted: March 1, 2021
Twins make people curious. What’s it like to be a twin—especially an identical one?
There’s at least one thing you don’t have in common with your twin: your fingerprints. Identical twins start out from the same cell. Their DNA is almost completely the same. But as twins grow, they wiggle around and move their fingers, touching the inside of their mother’s womb. This forms unique patterns on each baby’s fingertips.
Your twin becomes your best friend early . . . even before you’re born! After 14 weeks in the womb, twins may be spotted reaching for each other. Four weeks later, they touch each other more often than they touch their own bodies. Researchers have noticed that twins already practice the Golden Rule: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” (Matthew 7:12) Twins in the womb treat each other’s sensitive eye area gently—just like they do their own.
Twins make up their own languages. Most babies learn language from older people. But twins also teach each other. Many twins develop “twin language”—a way of talking using made-up words and sounds only the two of them understand. This twin talk usually goes away once they learn real language.
Once twins, always twins. Meet “The Jim Twins.” These now-famous identical twins from Minnesota were separated as babies. Each was adopted by a different family. Both were named Jim. Each had a dog named Toy. Later, as adults, the Jims met. They didn’t just look the same. They had led weirdly similar lives. Each had a son. Even though the Jims didn’t know each other, one Jim named his son James Allan and the other named his son James Alan. They each married a woman named Linda. Each Jim drove a blue Chevrolet, worked as a part-time sheriff, struggled with headaches, and chewed his fingernails down to the nub. Many cases of separated twins show surprising types of similarities. These situations help researchers chew on a fascinating question: Which determines what kind of person a baby becomes—genes, or the way the baby is raised? The answer, of course, is both. But the Jims show that genes play a huge role.