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National Geographic - TWINS

A Thing or Two About Twins - FREE Feature Download

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They have the same piercing eyes. The same color hair. One may be shy, while the other loves meeting new people. Discovering why identical twins differ - despite having the same DNA - could reveal a great deal about all of us.

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By Peter Miller
Photograph by Martin Schoeller
Issue: January 2012

Every summer, on the first weekend in August, thousands of twins converge on Twinsburg, Ohio, a small town southeast of Cleveland named by identical twin brothers nearly two centuries ago.

They come, two by two, for the Twins Days Festival, a three-day marathon of picnics, talent shows, and look-alike contests that has grown into one of the world's largest gatherings of twins.

Dave and Don Wolf of Fenton, Michigan, have been coming to the festival for years. Like most twins who attend, they enjoy spending time with each other. In fact, during the past 18 years, the 53-year-old truckers, whose identical beards reach down to their chests, have driven more than three million miles together, hauling everything from diapers to canned soup from places like Seattle, Washington, to Camden, New Jersey. While one sits at the wheel of their diesel Freightliner, the other snoozes in the bunk behind him. They listen to the same country gospel stations on satellite radio, share the same Tea Party gripes about big government, and munch on the same road diet of pepperoni, apples, and mild cheddar cheese. On their days off they go hunting or fishing together. It's a way of life that suits them.

"Must be a twins thing," Don says.

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Peter Miller is a senior editor. Jodi Cobb is a frequent contributor to the magazine. Martin Schoeller’s portrait of Jane Goodall appeared in October 2010.

We would like to thank the following organizations for their contributions to this article: Twins Day Festival, National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs, Inc., Alzheimer's Association, American Diabetes Association, Autism—National Institutes of Health