Researchers have found that humans who look alike have similar genetic profiles and even display similar behaviors
A new study by Spanish researchers shows that human ‘lookalikes’ who have similar facial features also tend to share many genetic similarities and even some lifestyle attributes.
Researchers at the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute in Barcelona have collected photos of the faces of 32 unrelated lookalike couples, from the photographs of Canadian artist François Brunelle, who has been collecting photographs of lookalikes for his project “I’ M NOT A LOOK-ALIKE!”.
They used three different facial recognition algorithms to analyze the photographs and determine the similarities between each pair. Twenty-five of the pairs were rated as by at least two of the algorithms. The researchers then contacted all the people featured in the chosen photographs, asking them to fill out a questionnaire about their lifestyle and to send in a saliva sample.
The analyzes revealed that 9 of 16 very similar pairs share millions of genetic variants in more than 3,700 genes and that these similarities are not due to a common ancestry. Furthermore, these “ultra-lookalikes” also shared physical characteristics such as weight and height, as well as habits and behaviors such as smoking and education level, suggesting that the shared genetic variants influence not only physical appearance but also the style of life .
The study is limited by the small sample size, which is not even representative of the ethnicities that make up the world’s population. Thirteen of the look-alike pairs were of European descent, while the other three were East Asian, South Asian, and Hispanic. However, the work provides evidence that those who look alike, other than for family reasons, also behave similarly. The research provides some insight into the genetic mechanisms that contribute to face construction. The authors say these findings could be applied to forensics, allowing prediction of facial structure from DNA.
- Look-alike humans identified by facial recognition algorithms show genetic similarities. (cell.com)