So, fellow travel enthusiasts, let me ask you this: what drives you to travel? Are you one of those lucky souls who jets all around the world on business, or do you take time out of your working schedule to do so? Are you a rough-and-ready adventurer who has seen and done everything, a keen backpacker, or a leisurely stick-to-your-resort sunbather?All of these options are entirely valid, of course. That’s the beauty of the whole thing: travel (travel for pleasure, at any rate) is about seeing the parts of the world you wish, via the mode of transport you choose, and doing whatever you want to once you’re there. You’re limited by tedious, real-life constraints like money, children and such, of course, but you play the cards you’re dealt and make the best of it.
What is it that drives us to do so, though? There’s something primal there, I think. The same thing that drove the explorers of old to go to mysterious and perilous places, simply because they could. There’s so much out there.
There’s more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can… I mean, granted, that’s The Lion King, but it’s a vital point. Geographers and scientists may think they’ve got the whole world figured and mapped out now, but there’s so much we still don’t understand.
On that note, let’s take a trip over to India, where the mysterious ‘Twin Town,’ Kodinhi, continues to baffle the world with its impossibly high rates of twin births. Set your phasers to fascinating.
20 This Just Isn’t The Way Things Go In India
Around the world, the rate of mothers giving birth to twins wildly fluctuates. As Live Science reported in 2011, the small central African nation of Benin has the highest rates of twinning in the world, standing at around 27.9 cases per 1,000 births.
By contrast, some countries boast a rate as low as eight and below per 1,000. All kinds of comparison factors contribute to these differences, (as we’ll see later in this rundown) or have been hypothesised to, but we have no solid evidence as to why the differences are so pronounced. One thing we do know is that the village of Kodinhi breaks ALL of the rules.
19 The Lowest In The World
If Benin, and by extension Central Africa, has the highest twinning rates in the world, where are the lowest rates concentrated? Latin America and Asia, that’s where. Here, those average rates of less than eight twin births per 1,000 are reported.
Where there are averages, though, there are always exceptions. That’s the whole reason they’re called averages. Haiti, Live Science goes on, boasted a super high rate of 14 twins per 1,000, while Kodinhi, India’s impossible ‘Twin Town,’ completely defies the low Indian rate of twinning. Next, we’ll take a look at some theories as to why that could be the case.
18 Debunked And… Re-Bunked
One factor that often comes into play when discussing the rates of twin births is artificial insemination. In the developed world, where IVF treatments are much more common, the rate of twins born tends to be higher.
Don’t worry, there’s a little more scientific basis to this than the fact that Phoebe bore triplets after deciding to be her half-brother’s surrogate in Friends. Countries that don’t have ready access to such costly treatments, as The Daily Mail reports, could be expected to have a lower rate. Then along come all of the African statistics we’ve seen, which fly in the face of all of that. It’s a difficult subject to tackle, from a scientific standpoint.
17 The People Of Kodinhi Did NOT Get That Memo
So, here we are then. We’ve seen that scientists can only really theorise as to how these different rates emerge around the globe. We’ve seen that what data we can gather is limited to averages and estimations, and that exceptions will come along to completely trash what little we do know.
Here we are in Kodinhi, then, in Kerala, India. It’s a small village, home to around 2,000 families, and it’s a medical marvel. Despite India’s very low average rate of twin births, over 220 sets of twins have been born to these families! So how did this phenomenon come about?
16 Not Typical Twinners
Although it seems that these average numbers would count for very little, there are some links that science has been able to draw when it comes to women more likely to bear twins.
The trouble with that is, the women of Kodinhi tend to marry at 18-20 and start families around that time. They also have an average height of 5ft. Take that, science.
15 That’s Sure As Heck Not Stopping Them, Though
And that’s exactly the problem. These days, humanity has gotten a little complacent. We sit here at the top of the food chain, with our social media, our memes and McDonald’s starting to deliver (what a darn futuristic time to be alive, friends) and we think we know it all. We think we’ve explained everything there is to explain, in neat little packages.
So how did all of this come about? How do the women of Kodinhi defy everything we’ve come to understand about how twins ‘work’? The rate is much, much higher than the rest of the country, and by all conventional logic, it really shouldn’t be.
14 This All Began Three Generations Ago (Or so we're told)
As we’ve already established, then, Kodinhi is a small, unassuming village that houses a whole heaping heckola of a mystery. It’s the sort of story that would serve quite well as a fiction plot, with some kind of odd, sci-fi explanation for the biological anomaly.
Here in the real world, it’s only natural that the locals would have their own tales to tell about their fascinating little home. According to their stories, the twinning phenomenon began only three generations ago. According to Times Of India, this is corroborated by Dr Sribiju, who said, “To the best of my knowledge, this medical marvel began somewhere between 60 to 70 years ago.”
13 Moving At An Alarming Rate
So, there it is. We have a vague idea of around when Twin Town started to earn its nickname, but we’re still largely in the dark as to exactly how.
Whatever the case, though, the numbers don’t lie. The rate of twins born here is around 45 per 1,000 births, which is just staggering.
As you might remember, in 2015, the highest global average was Benin’s, which stood at 27.9. This, in and of itself, is exceptionally high. Of course, that’s a country-wide average, but that makes Twin Town’s case all the more interesting. What is it about this mysterious little village?
12 There’s Something In The Water (Or The Food)
In the case of Benin, dietary factors have been seen to play a part in the super high rate. The Yoruba tribe (who live in Benin, Nigeria and other regions with high rates) eat a very traditional diet, Business Insider reports. They eat large quantities of cassava, a vegetable similar to the yam, which has been suggested as a possible contributing factor.
Diet has been linked to the issues of twinning before, and may contribute, though no specific and conclusive links have been found. This is also the case with the people of Twin Town, whose diet isn’t seen to vary much at all from surrounding areas with much lower rates.
11 ‘Twin Town’ Local Pride
The residents themselves, meanwhile, are proud of their village and its curious story. Coining the term Twin Town themselves, they’ve also formed a group called TAKA, the Twins and Kin Association.
What an excellent way to embrace your unique community.
10 TAKA Has Taken Off
The TAKA initiative is an inspiring way of approaching the community’s shared issue. After all, Kodinhi is a small village, not a rich, sprawling metropolis. It’s a mark of close-knit little groups like this that they co-operate far better than the people of a big city tend to do. Just try hopping on the subway and looking around: most people wouldn’t notice if a fellow passenger was on fire.
Needless to say, with how widespread twins are in Twin Town, support for TAKA is booming. With parents in the mix too, the group has far exceeded 600 members. A fantastic idea.
9 There’s Just No Explanation
TAKA founder Pualani Bhaskaran goes on to explain another objective of the group: “The twins of Kodinhi should be united so that they can find out why they are here.”
As we’ve already seen, that’s quite a question. How did they come to be here? Research offers all kinds of rudimentary factors that can contribute to the birth of twins, but that’s just not cutting it here. Twin Town is a place where the ordinary ‘rules’ just don’t seem to apply. Common factors like height, age and diet don’t seem to have made a marked difference to the community here. It’s all very puzzling.
8 Healthy And Happy
Speaking of tried-and-tested rules just not applying, Dr Sribiju has also debunked another possibility. Pollutants and genetic defects can also be a contributing factor to the birth of twins, in many cases. As with everything else, though, Twin Town does not want to be one of those cases. It’s going to go ahead and defy logic, like an angry toddler who wants to throw their spaghetti into the ceiling fan.
The thing about the twins here, Dr Sribiju explains, is that they are largely born healthy, without congenital issues. This would not be the case is there were any problematic genetic factors present.
7 So, What’s Happening Here?
Well, like just about everyone who has studied this case, it’s tough to say. Here we have a country with one of the lowest rates of twin births anywhere on the planet. Different communities within said countries are going to deviate from those sorts of figures, naturally, but is this natural?
Twin Town is producing twins at a rate of approximately six times the global average. Not the average of India, you understand, but of the whole planet. As with a lot of curious cases in this wacky world, we can venture theories and possibilities as to why, but that’s really the best we can do.
6 They’re Very Protective, Too
As is also the case with the more interesting places on our planet, the village has drawn attention to itself. Not simply from scientists and other researchers, but simply from travellers who have heard of this mysterious Twin Town and want to check it out for themselves.
Needless to say, though, the residents are not spectacles to be goggled at.
National Geographic tells the story of Jordi Pizarro, a Delhi-based photographer who set out to work on a photo project focusing on the twins. On his arrival, to his dismay, none of the twins would allow him to take pictures of them without permission from the head of the local ‘twin association.’ Said director wanted to charge Pizarro “thousands of dollars” to take the shots.
Fortunately, he struck up a friendship with a local schoolteacher who helped him with the project.
5 It’s Not Just A Local Thing
So, by this point, we’ve really exhausted a lot of the conventional avenues of explanation. The people of the town don’t seem to be eating anything specific, or biologically pre-disposed to have a higher chance of producing twins. So, what else is there?
Maybe it’s the place itself? Apparently, that’s a dead-end too. As Buoyant Feet reports, whatever it is about the people of Twin Town, it never leaves them. There are documented cases of people who move away from the village still producing greater than normal rates of twins. You can take the residents out of Twin Town, but you can’t take the Twin Town out of the residents.
4 Where Will It All End?
The more you read about the impossible case of Twin Town, the more amazing it all becomes. So there’s no scientific explanation for this? We know, we’ve seen that. So the people born and raised here can move away and still seemingly produce twins at an uncanny rate? Sure, I guess.
How about this next fact: that inexplicable rate of twin births is only increasing. Let’s cross back to local authority Dr Krishnan Sribiju, who noticed a sharp upturn in the already-super-high rate. "What is fascinating is the increasing numbers of twins with each passing year, so much so that I feel in the past ten years the number of twins in Kodinhi has doubled," he has said.
3 The Stuff Of Local Legend
So, yes. As we’ve also seen, the people of Kodinhi don’t fear their unusual situation. They are proud to be dubbed Twin Town, and the community actively works towards helping with the workload, expense and additional pressure that twins can cause. It’s a great system, in my eyes.
As with anywhere else with an intriguing USP, the locals certainly have a story or two of their own to help fan the flames. They have told of infertile couples who have come to the village, only to go on to produce twins of their own. Is there something in the water? Is it the people themselves? I just don’t know anymore.
2 It’s Not The Only ‘Twin Town’
So, Kodinhi village is a fascinating and unique case, there’s no doubt about that. At the same time, though, it isn’t uniquely unique. There are similar communities elsewhere, where the residents give birth to twins just a little more often than you’d think they have any right to.
One such town is very close, in fact. The Times Of India reports on another Indian village, Mohammadpur Umri, where there are almost 33 pairs of twins out of a population of only 600. The report dubs the village a ‘genetic goldmine,’ and there’s really little disputing that point. Which brings us to our final entry.
1 What Could This Research Mean?
Perhaps we’ll never know the reason why this extraordinary village (and others like it) is blessed with so many pairs of twins. Perhaps there isn’t any specific reason to pinpoint, and it’s just one of those curious quirks of biology.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is to consider the implications of all of this. However it came to pass, there’s something very special happening here. If we can’t explain it, the main thing is to understand it. It’s just possible that, as Dr. Sribiju states, “…maybe whatever is causing this exceptional level of twinning can be bottled and provide help for infertile couples.”
References: Live Science, The Daily Mail, Times Of India, Business Insider, Buoyant Feet.