Actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt welcomed twins into the world last weekend in France. And Twinsburg, Ohio, is preparing to host twins and their families by the thousands at for the annual Twins Days festival Aug. 1-3. Here are more facts to make you see double:
1 Many of us started out as twins, whether we know it or not. An estimated one in eight natural pregnancies begins that way. In the quite common "vanishing twin syndrome," one of the twins is reabsorbed by the mother during the first trimester while the other remains viable.
2 One in 80 deliveries in the United States results in twins, but the rate is much higher among the Yoruba ethnic group in Nigeria: One in 11 people is a twin. In ancient times, the Yoruba viewed twins with suspicion, and sometimes sacrificed them. But now twins are considered lucky. In contrast to the Western view, the firstborn twin is considered the younger of the two. The Yoruba believe that the "senior" twin sent the younger one out first to scout the world.
3 Peggy Lynn of Danville, Pa., delivered fraternal twins Eric and Hanna 84 days apart -- one in November 1995, one in February 1996.
4 Fraternal twins can be the result of two acts of sexual intercourse that occur days apart. For that reason, it ispossible for fraternal twins to have different fathers, as demonstrated in an 1810 case in the U.S. in whichone child was white and the other was what people then called mulatto, mixed black and white.
5 Of particular interest to psychologists are lifelong "twinless twins," people whose twin died at or near birth. According to psychologist Peter Whitmer, such surviving twins go to great lengths to assert their uniqueness, yet often feel as if they're living for two people. Perhaps the most famous was Elvis Presley, whose identical twin brother, Jesse, was stillborn. Others include painter Diego Rivera, pianist Liberace and writers Thornton Wilder and Philip K. Dick.
6 Actresses Scarlett Johansson and Parker Posey are twins. No, not with each other. Each of them has a twin brother.
7 Frederick and Susan Machell were a happily married couple in Australia in the 1980s. They both knew they had been adopted and thought it was an amusing coincidence that they had been born in the same hospital onthe same day. But after 20 years of marriage, they investigated further because their child had a genetically related illness. Yes, they were twins. But they stayed married anyhow.
8 Identical twins can vary markedly in certain skills. Jose Canseco had 7,057 at-bats in the major leagues and hit 462 home runs. His identical twin brother, Ozzie, had 65 at-bats with no homers. You might guess that Jose's edge was steroid use, but Ozzie was exposed in the steroid scandal too.
9 Painter Ivan Albright's meticulously detailed work is displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago and featured in the 1945 film "The Picture of Dorian Gray." But Ivan was only half of his own story. He had a twin named Malvin. The two attended the School of the Art Institute, flipping a coin to determine which of them would study painting and which would learn sculpture. Though the coin flip put Ivan in the painting classes, Malvin eventually embraced that medium as well, but less successfully. Malvin signed his paintings "Zsissly," so that when the twins' work was displayed together, the catalog would have Albrights at the beginning and the end.
10 Other famous twins: Diplomat Kofi Annan (sister), journalist Seymour Hersh (fraternal brother), model Gisele Bundchen (fraternal sister), actor Montgomery Clift (sister), actor Vin Diesel (fraternal brother), actor Ashton Kutcher (fraternal brother), singer-songwriter Alanis Morrisette Morissette (brother), writer Sarah Vowell (fraternal sister) and actor Billy Dee Williams (sister).
SOURCES: "Entwined Lives," by Nancy L. Segal; "The Inner Elvis," by Peter O. Whitmer; "Yoruba Customs and Beliefs Pertaining to Twins," in Twin Research (April 2002); salon.com; baseball-reference.com; and Tribune staff and news services.
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