Do you have a doppelgänger? Scientists find unrelated lookalikes likely have similar DNA

You and your doppelgänger – someone who looks just like you, but is actually a stranger — may actually have similar DNA, according to a new study. Researchers in Spain used photographs by Canadian artist François Brunelle, who has taken pictures of lookalikes around the world since 1999, in the study.

Photos of 16 pairs of people who look alike were used to measure just how similar the pairs of people look using three different facial recognition algorithms. 

“In the case of many look-alike, the three software gave the same results: they were unable to distinguish the faces, they were virtual twins!” Manel Esteller, senior author of the study, said in an email to CBS News.

The lookalikes then took a biometric and lifestyle questionnaire and also provided saliva samples for analysis, according to a news release. 

Esteller said they tested several different components: DNA sequence, or genome; the DNA methylation status, or epigenome; and the bacteria and viral content, the microbiome in the participants’ samples. All three components are critical in determining cell and tissue activity.

When DNA samples are uploaded to a heatmap, similar samples group or “cluster” together. According to the study, nine of the 16 pairs (56.2%) clustered together, and were considered “ultra” lookalikes.

“When we uploaded the DNA sequences of the look-alike to the faces and genomes of the general population, each person in the study matched its corresponding double and was not closer to any other human,” said Esteller, who works at the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain.

Lookalikes shared physical traits like weight and height – and even behavioral traits, according to the press release.

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