Doppelganger: Why does a person who is not your familiar look like you?

Surely you have found on the internet photos of people who look very much like a celebrity, or deceased who seem to have embodied in others. Doppelganger is a German term used to refer to the double of a person.

In the movies, dopplegangers are used to point out the evil twin, but in real life they are only used to identify subjects by their great resemblance without family ties. These also qualify as unknown twins.

One of the most popular comparisons over the years is the physical resemblance between German soccer player Mesut Ozil and Italian businessman Enzo Ferrari. In this case, fans think that Ferrari reincarnated in Ozil because the businessman died in 1988, the same year the footballer was born.

François Brunelle is a Canadian photographer who began nearly a decade ago finding doppelgangers and photographing them. His project is called I’m not a look-alike! (“I am not a look-alike”) and never imagined that because of these photographs a group of experts would contact him for pioneering scientific research.

The Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute, in Barcelona, ​​Spain, approached Brunelle’s photographs to understand the physical similarities between individuals who have no family ties.

The results of the research started in 2016 were shared in August in the specialized journal Cell Reports under the name Look-alike humans identified by facial recognition algorithms show genetic similarities (“Look-alike humans identified by facial recognition algorithms show genetic similarities”).

Doppelganger study results

According to the researchers, this molecular study aimed to “characterize random human beings who objectively share facial features.” In the project with the photographer they gathered 32 volunteer couples.

Subsequently, the photographs were analyzed by three facial recognition software, similar to those used in airports, to detect the appearance. In twins the digital similarity found by these programs reaches 90% or 100%.

“The number of pairs that were correlated by at least two programs was very high (75% similarity in 25 of 32),” the institute reported in a statement.

Manel Esteller, director of the institute and professor of Genetics at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Barcelona, ​​led the study and told BBC Mundo that the figure is “very close to the human capacity to recognize identical twins.”

The genetics of the analyzed doppelgangers

Another strategy of the study was to analyze the biological material of the unknown twins through saliva, a sample difficult to collect in some cases because those studied lived in distant countries.

“We study this biological material, the genome and two more components: the epigenome, which are like the chemical marks that control DNA, and also the microbiome, the type of virus and bacteria that we have,” Esteller explained.

They determined that the analyzed couples have similar genetics and a similar DNA sequence. “(The resemblance) is not because they have families in common, there is no relationship between them. It is because eventually, chance, surely, has created identical areas or DNA sequences of these people.”

That is, both people share variants that make them have facial features in a certain way.

The study is groundbreaking because it is the first to scientifically determine that doppelgangers have DNA similarities.

Main news source: BBC World.

Doppelganger: Why does a person who is not your familiar look like you?