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The Twins in Brazil

There's a region in Brazil where so many twins have been born — in one village of 350 people, 10 percent of births were of twins — that residents have many theories as to why, from there being something in the water to the machinations of Nazi physician Josef Mengele, who died in Brazil in 1979. According to a New York Times article, researcher Ursula Matte and her team scoured through the region's drinking water to find nothing unusual and, using baptismal certificates, traced the high incidence of twins in the area to before Mengele was in Brazil. Instead, Matte's team says that the mothers, all part of a highly-related, German-speaking population, share a gene that predisposes them to having twins. "We analyzed six genes and found one gene that confirms, in this population, a predisposition to the birth of twins," Matte says. She notes, though, that this gene many not be universal for a predisposition to twins. "If I take twins from New Zealand and test them, it will probably generate a different result," she adds.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.