Whether they’re newborns, toddlers or preschoolers, it’s difficult to tell identical twins, also known as monozygotic twins, apart. While you’ll definitely notice differences over time, it can still be hard to distinguish between them. To tell them apart, you’ll mainly have to rely on your eyes to determine visual distinctions, and your hearing to listen out for varying voice patterns and differences in their speech. Although, would you be able to tell identical twins apart just by their scents alone? Well, scientists have asked the same questions, and as dogs are known for using their noses to identify people, what better way than to test out whether or not dogs can smell the difference between identical twins.

The Science Behind Identical Twins

Monozygotic twins not only share the exact same physical features, but they also share the exact same DNA as well. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll forever stay the same as they age. Take a car design, for example. Two cars can be designed to look and operate in the same matter, but they can still have small differences between them as they get further along in the manufacturing and sales process. One car could have a small scratch or dent in a component that the other car doesn’t. More importantly, once they’ve been completed and are released to a dealership, their paths will diverge as separate drivers with varying experience and intentions purchase them. Back to the question at hand: do identical twins share the same scent, and will a dog be able to smell the difference between them?

The Experiment

Ten highly trained police dogs were selected for this experiment, as well as two sets of identical twins that lived in the same environment and ate the same food. As your food and home can influence what you smell like, this was vital to producing accurate results. The twins were labelled, scent samples were collected and the experiment proceeded. Separately, the police dogs would smell the initial scent given to them, the scent of one of the twins, and was sent down a line to identify the matching scent. Some scents provided were that of the twin subjects, while others were scents meant to trick the canines.

By the end, all ten police dogs were able to differentiate between the twin’s scents, but does that mean other, less trained dogs, would provide the same results? Overall, we now know that identical twins, while they might have the exact same DNA and physical features, they don’t share the same scent profile, even when living in the same environment and eating the same food.

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