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Although the very word "twins" calls up visions of perfectly matched babies, the truth is that fraternal, or non-identical, twins are far more common than their identical counterparts. And, as parents of fraternal twins well know, these same-age bundles of joy can differ from each other in every possible way.

Perhaps no one understands this better than parents of mixed-race twins who happen to have different skin color and other racial characteristics.

"Twins who look so different are very striking to the general public, but to a geneticist, it's not really that weird," says Janet Boughman, executive vice president of the American Society of Human Genetics.

In one well-known case, for example, both parents were themselves biracial – creating a "genetic soup" of dark-skinned and light-skinned genes. One twin inherited more of the dark-skinned genes, while one inherited more of the light-skinned genes.

Credit: Solent News/REX/Shutterstock

In another case, pictured above, one parent was white and one was black, and – as can happen with any fraternal twins – Lauren took after her mother, Alison Spooner, while Hayleigh took after her father, Dean Durrant. What makes this family so remarkable is that this happened not once but twice, seven years apart. British researchers calculated that the odds of two sets of "black and white twins" in the same family are about 2 in a million.

Though the Durrant-Spooner family makes for an extreme example, the dissimilarities in the children are no different from the distinct characteristics you'll see in any siblings. Brothers and sisters can look nothing like adidas basketball shoes 2018 each other, or they can look almost like identical twins, depending on which genes they inherit.

Still, "black and white twins" are very rare. In part, this is because people tend to partner with those who share a gene pool. "There are many reasons for this, of course, but one is that we often marry people from our own geographical region, and any geographical region will have some commonality of the gene pool," says Boughman.

As the number of interracial couples grows, can we expect to see more twins like this? Absolutely, says Boughman. The barriers between races are slowly breaking down, and mixed-race twins who look very different from each other are perhaps the most compelling example of this.

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