Twin Genes

Twins are thought to have one soul in Yoruba culture.
Twins are thought to have one soul in Yoruba culture.

Twin genes run strong in Nigeria. It’s a fact. A Nigerian artist in the audience asked identical twin brother artists Jerry and Terry Lynn a question about the Yoruba twin tradition. During their recent solo show and art talk at Harlem’s Schomburg Center, one of the twins said that his DNA test results traced their ancestry to Nigeria—sometimes called “land of twins.” I wonder if there could be a connection.

Twin brother artists Jerry and Terry Lynn at Harlem show.
Twin brother artists Jerry and Terry Lynn at Harlem show.

Apparently, Nigeria has the highest rate of twins in the world. They believe that twins are a sign of good luck and special blessings. Twins are depicted in ancient artifacts as deities and associated with many ceremonies. Twins are also thought to have one soul in the Yoruba culture.

Artwork from twin brother's show.
Artwork from twin brother’s show.

The Lynn twin artists are known for creating art while simultaneously painting on the same canvas. See my review of their show published recently in (, New York). What better evidence of ‘one soul’ could you find than that? Could all that we know about twins be a coincidence, as some experts assert?

with twin artists @Schomburg.
with twin artists @Schomburg.

The rate of identical twins is considered steady throughout the world at approximately 0.5 percent of all births, by Belgian researcher Fernand Leroy, a noted twin expert.(

“Overall, almost 5 percent of all Yoruba births produce twins compared with just around 1.2 percent for Western Europe and 0.8 percent for Japan — although fertility drugs in the developed world are changing those figures,” cited the Belgium report. Nigeria’s traditional yam diet is one way to explain their preponderance for twins. Yams contain a natural hormone phytoestrogen, which stimulate the ovaries to produce an egg from each side.

Is there a twin gene? Do twins run in families? The answers to these questions are: Yes, Yes and No. Yes. There is a twin gene for “hyper-ovulation” only on the mother’s side for fraternal twins. Yes. Fraternal twins “run in families” on the mother’s side only, if she inherits the gene for hyper ovulation. No. There is no identical twin gene.(

Do twins skip a generation? No. This is another myth. “There is absolutely no evidence, other than circumstantial, that twins are more likely to occur every other generation. However, if you consider the influence of genetic hyper ovulation, this pattern could appear in families depending on whether their children were sons or daughters.”

Family history of twins is only one of several factors leading to twins. Maternal age, race, weight, diet, and taking fertility drugs, all contribute to twinning and may have a stronger influence than family history. Do you have twins in your family?

One thought on “Twin Genes

  1. I have not twin genes in my family. Wonder if that suggests my family has no ties to Nigeria. No just kidding. But I met with representatives from a company called 23andme that would be of interest to you. IN fact they were in the WSJ last Thursday having won a case about the use of genetic information . I have the kit and will take their test which claims to offer both genetic and medical information. . Thank you for sharing this.

Comments are closed.