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If identical twins weren’t anomalous enough, Bridgette and Paula Powers kick it up a notch with their uncanny bond. These Australian women have almost never been apart, possibly contributing to their unique communication style. They have a knack for repeating what the other says, sometimes finishing their sister’s sentences or speaking in unison. The phenomenon is known as echolalia: the immediate and involuntary repetition of words or phrases spoken by other people.

Exhibiting these wild talents at the age of forty two makes them exceptional. Most twins tend to develop separate personalities as they grow up. If their behavior doesn’t change, twin DNA tends to diverge over the years. [1] In the case of the Powers sisters, they share the same heart and blood pressure conditions. Also there’s this curious account they related to the Sydney Morning Herald last year.

The longest they’ve been apart was three days during their teens, when Paula was hospitalised for an appendectomy. Helen told the doctors that whatever ailment one twin suffered always affected the other soon after, but they refused to remove Bridgette’s appendix at the same time.

“That led to a very bad experience for me,” ventures Bridgette, her first solo utterance since my arrival. “I was at a bus stop and three guys tried to pull me into their car. But I used my whole strength and I fought hard and I did get away from them.”

Paula says she sensed her twin’s distress from her hospital bed. “I felt really sick and my blood pressure was going up. I knew something was wrong.” Soon afterwards, she “knew” Bridgette was downstairs being treated for minor injuries incurred in her struggle with the men: “And then Bridgette came up and told us what had happened.” Within a few weeks, as Helen had predicted, Bridgette was back in hospital having her appendix removed. [2]

Watch Jenny Brockie’s interview with the Powers sisters and decide for yourself if these coincidences are genetic, social, or something stranger.

n.b. For fans of China MiĆ©ville’s Embassytown, this is exactly how I imagined the Ambassadors speaking in the novel.

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  1. Epigenetic differences arise during the lifetime of monozygotic twins – http://www.pnas.org/content/102/30/10604.full
  2. Bridgette and Paula Powers: ‘We give all our love to the birds’ – http://www.smh.com.au/good-weekend/bridgette-and-paula-powers-we-give-all-our-love-to-the-birds-20150909-gjivtr.html