Brazil Town’s Nazi Twin Mystery
A group of Brazilian scientists have ended decades of speculation about why a small town in Southern Brazil has so many twins. People in the village of Candido Godoi had said there might be something in the water that made more than 10 percent of pregnancies there result in twins. The high concentration of twins has stirred outlandish theories (around 1 percent of pregnancies).The scientists confirmed that the highest concentration of twins has been in São Pedro, with 33 pairs out of 436 births from 1959 to 2008, all living in a one-and-a-half-square-mile area. Residents say Mengele moved around southern Brazil in the 1960s, posing as a veterinarian, at about the time the twin births were thought to have really taken off. An Argentine journalist suggested in a 2008 book that Mengele conducted experiments on women in Cândido Godói that resulted in a baby boom of twins, many of whom have blond hair and light-colored eyes. Some village residents speculated that Mengele had conducted medical experiments on the townsfolk, and the high rate of twinning was the result. Mengele, who died in Brazil in 1979, was notorious for his often-deadly experiments on twins at Auschwitz, ostensibly in an effort to produce a master Aryan race for Hitler. But, after studying 30 families in the village since 2009, Brazilian geneticist Ursula Matte says the phenomenon has a simpler explanation. A gene linked with twinning occurs at a much higher rate in the village than it does elsewhere. This concentration within the town, which was settled by a small group of German-speaking immigrants, has been compounded by decades of intermarriage.