Cândido Godói, a small town in Southern Brazil, has fondly been nicknamed: ‘Twin Land’. As the name suggests, a phenomenal number of twins are born in the remote town each year – 10% of pregnancies result in multiple births. That’s nearly 1,000 percent higher than the global average. Right from the elderly to young children, most of the town’s inhabitants are two-of-a-kind. Understandably, several theories have been proposed to explain this bizarre phenomenon – both scientific and outlandish in nature.
While some people have blamed a mysterious ingredient lurking in the town’s water supply, most fingers point towards the Nazis. Specifically, towards Dr. Joseph Mengele (a.k.a. Angel of Death), one of Hitler’s most ruthless followers. Mengele became infamous during the war for the horrifying medical experiments he conducted on prisoners. One of his sick experiments aimed at creating the perfect Aryan race for his Fuhrer. At this time, he also became interested in discovering the specific gene quirk that produces twins – to double the birth rate of the perfect race.
Photo: Twins Town
When the war ended, Mengele is believed to have fled to Brazil, taking cover near Cândido Godói. Many locals believe he entered the village disguised as a roaming doctor and returned several times in the 1960s, offering medical treatment to the town’s womenfolk. He often gave them mysterious potions and drugs, now believed to be a twin-inducing mix of hormones. Mengele’s influence on the town was so strong that even to this day, locals are able to recognize pictures of him.
Photo: Daniel Casol/IG
As scandalous as it sounds, scientists have long since debunked the idea of Mengele tampering with the birth pattern of an entire village. In 2009, a series of DNA tests were conducted on about 30 families by Brazilian geneticist Ursula Matte and her team of 20 researchers. Through the tests, it was discovered that a specific gene occurs more frequently in the village in the mothers of twins, than in mothers without twins. And given the high level of inbreeding in the small town largely populated by German-speaking immigrants, the phenomenon is bound to have compounded.
Photo: Daniel Casol/IG
“We analyzed six genes and found one gene that confirms, in this population, a predisposition to the birth of twins,” said Dr. Matte. “In the initial stages of our research we immediately disproved any involvement with Mengele,” she added. Her team also analyzed the water consumed by the town’s residents but they found no abnormalities or strange minerals. What they did manage to discover, is that the highest concentration of twins in the region belongs to the village of Sao Pedro – 33 pairs out of 436 births in between 1959 and 2008. All that, within a one-and-a-half square mile area.
The study group also analyzed over 6,000 baptism certificates in the town, dating back 80 years. They found that the ‘twin phenomenon’ had existed even back then, way before Mengele arrived. Scientists now believe that small number of immigrant families in Sao Pedro may have introduced the variant gene to the region. And inbreeding just took care of the rest. Thankfully, the locals seem to have accepted Dr. Matte’s study and her team’s proposals. “The entire city supports this study, and they have great hopes of finding out why they have so many twins,” said Daniela Junzvier, culture coordinator at the Mayor’s office.
This isn’t the first time we’re hearing of entire towns with a high twin-population. In the past, we’ve reported two other cases – one was Igbo-Obra, a Nigerian farming community also called ‘the Nation’s Home of Twins’. The other was the Indian village of Kodhini, with six times more twins than the world average.