Can Twins Be Different Races?

The one in a million dark and fair skinned sisters

Images of twins - one with light skin, one with dark

Emailed images circulating since February 2006 show a pair of twin sisters — one black, the other white — born to a British couple who both had mixed-race parents. These images are authentic.

Who Are the Black and White Twins?

The following images credited in online news stories to freelance photographer Gary Roberts are authentic. The subjects are real as well — twins Kian and Remee Hodgson of Nottingham, England.

According to a February 21, 2006, article in the London Daily Mail, Kian, who is dark-skinned and dark-haired, and Remee, who is light-skinned and fair-haired, were born in April 2005 to Kylie and Remi Hodgson, who themselves were born to mixed-race parents. Kylie noted:

“I didn’t see them at first. They were both whisked away to be checked over and then the midwife came back and placed them both in my arms. I noticed that both of them had beautiful blue eyes, but whilst Remee’s hair was a blonde colour, Kian’s was black and she had darker skin.
It seemed strange, but I was feeling so ill from the Caesarean that I didn’t really take it in at that stage. All that mattered was my precious daughters had arrived safely.
But the following day, Kylee mentioned the colour difference to her mother. “I said to my mother that Remee’s skin was a lot lighter, and she told me that it would get darker as she got older. I had just assumed that both our babies would have the same skin tone as me.”

The Biology of Mixed Race Twins

While very rare, the phenomenon is not unknown, though it does entail a very particular combination of circumstances at the moment of conception. First, both parents must be of mixed race. Second, the twins must be fraternal (each conceived from a separate egg fertilized by separate sperm) as opposed to identical (both conceived from a single egg and sperm). Third, each sperm and egg must carry the genes for a particular skin color (i.e., black/black or white/white).

The odds against it are indeed a million to one.

The Black and White Twins Today

As the twins grew, Remee’s skin became lighter, whilst Kian’s got darker. Remee’s eyes stayed blue and  Kian’s turned brown. Despite the differences in their appearance, the girls share a very strong bond and are best friends.

More Mixed Race Twins

Another set of black and white twins were born in 1997 to a white father and a half-Jamaican mother. Lucy Aylmer has red hair and a very fair complexion and her twin Maria has brown hair with a caramel complexion.

Sample Email About the Twins
Here's an email contributed by Stacey B. on March 1, 2006:

A mixed-race British mom gave birth to twins recently - one of each. No, not a boy and a girl. Two girls - one black, the other white. The odds of such a birth are about a million to one, experts said.

Sources and further reading

Black and White Twins
The Daily Mail, 21 February 2006

Meet My Twin Sister
NY Daily News, 22 February 2006