The same genetic process which gave Dean Durrant and Alison Spooner’s first set of twin daughters different skin colours has been at work again. They first defied the odds in 2001 with Lauren, who has her mother’s blue eyes and red hair, and Hayleigh ,who has her father’s darker skin. But in a phenomenon compared to lightning striking in the same place twice, the latest additions to their family, newborn twins Miya and Leah, also have different coloured skin. The combined effects of several different genes working together are thought to determine human skin tone. Unlike identical twins, who are genetically the same, the girls come from two separate eggs which were each fertilised by different sperm. That means that they each have different genetic input from their parents. Just like Hayleigh, Maya’s skin colour has been more influenced by her father’s genes than her mother’s while for Lauren and Leah it is the other way around.
The phenomenon is so rare that there are no statistics to illustrate the probability of it happening, although it is thought likely to become more common because of growing numbers of mixed-race couples. In 2005 Kylie Hodgson and Remi Horder, from Nottingham, had twin girls, one white with blonde hair and the other black.Unlike Dean Durrant and Alison Spooner, both parents were of mixed race with white mothers and black fathers, meaning that the girls’ dramatically different skin colours were the result of a complex combination of genes from their grandparents.