Cândido Godói, a Brazilian village with an extreme abundance of blonde twins, has long spawned conspiracy theories. Namely, that infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele (who visited repeatedly in the 1960s and treated locals) created an “Aryan twin town.” However, the New York Times reports that scientists have identified a “twins gene” possessed by residents (who are mostly of German descent and have a high rate of inbreeding), likely putting the matter to rest:
For years, so many twins have been born in the small southern Brazilian town of Cândido Godói that residents wonder whether something mysterious lurks in the water, or even if Josef Mengele, the Nazi physician known as the Angel of Death, conducted experiments on the women there.
But a group of scientists now says it can rule out such long-rumored possibilities. Ursula Matte, a geneticist in Porto Alegre, Brazil, said a series of DNA tests conducted on about 30 families since 2009 found that a specific gene in the population of Cândido Godói appears more frequently in mothers of twins than in those without. The phenomenon is compounded by a high level of inbreeding among the population, which is composed almost entirely of German-speaking immigrants, she said.
The high concentration of twins has stirred outlandish theories. 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.