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Study Finds Genetic Overlap in Individuals With Extremely Similar Faces

Unrelated doppelgänger individuals who have faces similar enough to fool facial recognition software also tend to share genetic features, according to a new Cell Reports study by a team in Spain. The researchers turned to array-based genotyping and DNA profiling strategies to profile individuals from 32 look-alike pairs recruited from sites in North America, Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia for a photography project. Together with microbiome sequencing analyses, their analyses suggest individuals flagged for shared features on facial recognition algorithms also tend to have overlapping SNP sequences, though their methylation and microbiome features are more varied. "Our study provides a rare insight into human likeness by showing that people with extreme look-alike faces share common genotypes, whereas they are discordant at their epigenome and microbiome," the authors report. "These findings do not only provide clues about the genetic setting associated with our facial aspect, and probably other traits of our body and personality, but also highlight how much of what we are, and what defines us, is really inherited or instead is acquired during our lifetime."