I think we have all had that moment where someone mistook us for someone else, or ran into someone who looked so much like someone we knew, we halfway wouldn’t believe otherwise. The concept of a Doppelgänger is not new, but a recent study has provided some interesting insights on why a Doppelgänger is actually a very REAL thing.

For some insight into what I am talking about, let’s rewind to two very close friends, Charlie Chasen and Michael Malone. This pair of friends met in 1997 when Malone was to be a guest singer in Chasen’s band. The two became fast friends, and completely overlooked what was glaringly obvious to everyone else: the two were Doppelgängers. Put simply, for those who are unaware of a Doppelgänger, this basically means that while they are unrelated, they are strikingly similar, so much that they look nearly like the same person.

The pair were featured alongside hundreds of other Doppelgänger couples that looked extremely similar in a photography project known as “I’m Not a Look-Alike!” that was created by concept artist François Brunelle.

The project was a huge success, so much so that it garnered the attention of researchers from Spain. Dr. Manel Esteller, a researcher at the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute in Barcelona was no stranger to such research. He had previously studied the differences and similarities between identical twins, which lead him to be curious about people who were identical yet unrelated.

In the study, which was published in the journal Cell Reports, Esteller and his team took 32 pairs of lookalikes from the art project mentioned above. Then they collected DNA tests and used photographs used from the project. Then, they used facial recognition software to quantify the similarities between them. Out of the 32, sixteen of the pains had enough similarities for the system to believe they were identical twins.

Additionally, they took the DNA and compared it to see if their DNA was as similar to their appearance. What they found was that the “true” lookalikes were far more likely to have similar genes than the other 16 pairs that didn’t look as similar.

Esteller made a curious remark when he said, “Now there are so many people in the world that the system is repeating itself,” Dr. Esteller said. And one exciting possibility is that the more similar we look and the more similar our genes, the easier it could be one day to predict certain diseases.

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