If the two adorable puppies pictured above look exactly the same, that’s because they are.
Regardless, Cullen and Romulus are two very special Irish wolfhounds; through genetic analysis, they’ve been confirmed to be identical twins. Astoundingly, it’s the first time science has ever seen identical twin puppies.
This may come as a shock to those of you reading this story, as identical twins are quite common in humans. But, as it turns out, humans are rare in this regard – monozygotic (identical) twins are incredibly rare in other species.
Cullen and Romulus were delivered in a South African animal hospital by veterinarian Kurt de Cramer, who was shocked when he saw them. Two healthy pups, connected by umbilical cords to one placenta – something de Cramer had never seen in decades as a practicing vet.
De Cramer contacted geneticists at the University of Australia and the University of Pretoria in South Africa, both of whom confirmed Cullen and Romulus’ status as identical twins.
Until now, people have suspected that monozygotic twins are possible in domestic dogs, but there’s never been a confirmed case in scientific literature. Scientists believe this to be explained by natural selection. Fetuses in the same placenta must fight for a finite supply of nutrients, leading to malnourished offspring. Malnourished offspring, in turn, would be born unprepared for life in nature – and nature is unforgiving to those without medical technology and prenatal care. In other words, one (or both) of the twins would simply die in the womb.
Researchers are quick to point out, however, that twins in species other than humans may be more common than we think – we may simply be unaware of their existence. Either way, say ‘hello’ to Cullen and Romulus: adorable and healthy, they are (as far as we know) the world’s first identical twin pups.
Some of us are just born famous.
(Photo courtesy National Geographic)