The Strange Case of Identical DNA

I’m always getting caught up in odd science and medical news stories. When I was cleaning my bulletin board I found an old, yellowed, newspaper clipping about a burglary in a department store in Germany. The perpetrator had left DNA behind, but the authorities were flummoxed because the DNA match was for a pair of identical twins. The paper had been there for a few years and the second half of the article was missing so I tossed it into the recycling bin, taking away the haunting tidbit of strange news.

Identical twins share DNA, but life—even development inside the womb—alters how that DNA expresses itself. Although both twins receive the same genetic message determining height, one might receive more nutrition in utero and grow larger and ultimately taller. Later on, one twin may fall while running, break a leg and take up swimming, while the other continues to run, bulks up with weight lifting and goes out for the football team. At 40, the differences in their body sizes & shapes are a reflection of life as much as their shared genetic code. No witness would confuse THOSE identical twins—even with identical DNA at the crime scene.

A strange case…. And one that will linger and maybe produce a story one day.


  1. I read something a while back about a …chimera? Supposedly having two lots of DNA. Or maybe my memory is playing weird tricks on me. Perhaps I should look this up….

      • Candy Korman

        hehehe… I’ve got all sorts of research on the Chimera syndrome on my computer. There are individual people with two blood types, etc. It’s come up on occasion in murder mysteries, but I’ve yet to develop an original idea where I can use it!

        Great minds think alike!

  2. Very interesting Candy. I suppose the natural school of thought is that Identical Twins stay identical, but of course as you point out, they don’t. Many factors can change that. In the early days where DNA proves it to be one of two (or even 3?) who committed a crime could get away with it purely because police could not take a chance on imprisoning the wrong one.They must both have had good alibis though
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • Candy Korman

      Just imagine that there’s video putting one of the twins at the scene of the crime and video of the other establishing an alibi! Wow… what a mess.

  3. Different but the same… I’ve often wondered what factors go into aging gracefully. Some in my family age quite well, but the ones who are really anxious and stressed-out age much less gracefully. I have two sisters who are only two years apart, and half of the town can’t tell them apart, but to me they look nothing alike.

    • Candy Korman

      Yes! Life shows on your face and in how your body changes. Dorian Gray is the exception (of course) but last time I looked he was pure fiction.

      Genetic predispositions can give you a head start toward looking younger, or being healthier, etc. but choices count. It’s interesting how appearances play out in fiction. I hope we’re beyond the beauty is good/ugly is evil but it surfaces. I prefer to see a bit of the life a character has lived in his or her face. The characters in my new novel-in-progress range from college students to 70s/80s with an even bigger range of life experiences (drams, traumas, choices with consequences)and I hope I’ve managed to show that in brief physical descriptions.

      As for your look alike/totally different sisters, that’s interesting! I think that people actively LOOK at very few people that they see. Because they are your sisters, you’re looking with eyes attuned to differences. The people merely seeing them walk by, take in a sketchy general description. I hate that I’ve been confused with other short women with curly hair, but I realize that the curly hair is what they SEE.