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Black and white twins?

February 27th, 2006 . by Matt

black and white

This story from the daily mail would be hard to believe without the picture.

When Kylie Hodgson gave birth to twin daughters by caesarean section, she was just relieved that they had arrived safely.

It was only when the midwife handed them over for her to hold that she noticed the difference between them.

Remee, who weighed 5lb 15oz, was blonde and fair skinned. Her sister Kian, born a minute later weighing 6lb, was black.

‘Our two gorgeous little girls’

“It was a shock when I realised that my twins were two different colours,” said Kylie, 19. “But it doesn’t matter to us – they are just our two gorgeous little girls.”

The amazing conception happened after two eggs were fertilised at the same time in the womb.

Both Kylie and her partner Remi Horder, 17, are of mixed race. Their mothers are both white and their fathers are black.

According to the Multiple Births Foundation, baby Kian must have inherited the black genes from both sides of the family, whilst Remee inherited the white ones.

According to the article, the chances of it happening are exceedingly small.

The odds against of a mixed race couple having twins of dramatically different colour are a million to one.

Skin colour is believed to be determined by up to seven different genes working together.

If a woman is of mixed race, her eggs will usually contain a mixture of genes coding for both black and white skin.

Similarly, a man of mixed race will have a variety of different genes in his sperm. When these eggs and sperm come together, they will create a baby of mixed race.

But, very occasionally, the egg or sperm might contain genes coding for one skin colour. If both the egg and sperm contain all white genes, the baby will be white. And if both contain just the versions necessary for black skin, the baby will be black.

For a mixed-race couple, the odds of either of these scenarios is around 100 to one. But both scenarios can occur at the same time if the woman conceives non-identical twins, another 100 to one chance.

This involves two eggs being fertilised by two sperm at the same time, which also has odds of around 100 to one.

If a sperm containing all-white genes fuses with a similar egg and a sperm coding for purely black skin fuses with a similar egg, two babies of dramatically different colours will be born.

The odds of this happening are 100 x 100 x 100 – a million to one.

They should get both of these twins DNA tested to see just how much they differ in DNA, and it would be interesting to know if it is just the skin pigmentation or if their phenotypical appearance will also reflect their skin colours.


One Response to “Black and white twins?”

  1. comment number 1 by: Malaclypse

    Who is James Stephens and why is he in an “About the Author” section for all of your posts?

    James Stephens is the Computer Manager for the School Of Natural Sciences at the Institute For Advanced Study. His particular work interest is in computer security related topics. He can be contacted at [email protected].