'Mirror-image' twins do everything in precisely opposite ways

Mirror image! Identical twin sisters, 4, do everything in exactly the opposite way to each other – from parting their hair to holding a pen

  • Leah and Erin Sullivan, 4, are like ‘two sides of the same coin’ according to mum
  • They do everything the exact opposite – from parting their hair to holding pens
  • Mother Zoe, 42, said the pair are completely opposite in personalities too
  • It is known as ‘mirror image twins’ and affects up to a quarter of identical twins 

Four-year-old ‘mirror image’ twins do everything from parting their hair to holding a pen in precisely opposite ways. 

Leah and Erin Sullivan, from Inverness, Scotland, are like ‘two sides of the same coin’ according to their mother Zoe, 42. 

While Leah parts her hair on the left, Erin parts hers on the right and both favour opposite hands for throwing or writing.

Four-year-old ‘mirror image’ twins do everything from parting their hair to holding a pen in precisely opposite ways (pictured: Erin, left, and Leah, right)

The pair even sleep in exactly the same position, but on different sides. 

They are ‘mirror-image twins’ – a little-known phenomenon that means otherwise identical siblings are asymmetrical in their looks and how they move or interact. 

The phenomenon is believed to affect up to a quarter of identical twins, and Zoe found out her twins were affected last year. 

Stay-at-home mother Zoe said: ‘If their hair has been up, it’s really hard to tell them apart! 

Leah (left) and Erin (right) Sullivan, from Inverness, Scotland, are like ‘two sides of the same coin’ according to their mother Zoe (centre), 42

‘Leah’s hair grew faster, but it wasn’t until they were both about two and a half that their fringes started to grow out and I realised it parted on different sides! 

‘It didn’t matter what you did, like trying to part it in the middle or on the other side, and really it’s the only way you can tell them apart! 

‘That is when we realised they were mirror twins. Erin we think could be left-handed but Leah is definitely right-handed. 

‘After I noticed it I did look it up on the internet, it can be really extreme!’ 

While Leah (right) parts her hair on the left, Erin (left) parts hers on the right and both favour opposite hands for throwing or writing

She said Leah usually stands on the left in photos, with Erin on the right, and they walk with opposite dominant feet. 

And when they face each other it looks exactly like they are looking in the mirror. 

Their nursery also uses their unique hairstyles to tell the difference, but there could yet be more symmetries that reveal themselves as the girls grow older. 

Zoe added: ‘They are totally different in personality. Almost like different sides of the same coin. 

‘Every bit of personality Leah has, Erin doesn’t, and vice versa. 

They are ‘mirror-image twins’ – a little-known phenomenon that means otherwise identical siblings are asymmetrical in their looks and how they move or interact

Mother-of-eleven Zoe said that twins run in her family, and Leah (right) and Erin (left) were born on the eighth birthday of her first set of twins, who are non-identical 

What are ‘mirror image twins’? 

‘Mirror image twins’ is a phenomena which occurs in approximately 25 per cent of all identical twins. 

The term is used to describe twins who are matched as if they’re looking into a mirror, with defining characteristics like birthmarks, dominant hands, or other features on opposite sides. 

It is unclear what causes the mirroring in some twins, although some researchers suggest the phenomenon occurs when an egg splits later in the fertilisation process. 

Identical twins are the result of a single fertilised egg splitting into two embryos between four and eight days post-conception.

It is thought that mirror twins are the result of the egg splitting even later, between nine and 12 days, although this has never been proven. 

Mirror twins can only occur when a single egg splits, and therefore all mirror twins are identical, but not all identical twins are mirror twins. 

They usually have opposite anatomical features, such as a freckle on the left cheek while the other has one on the right, but they typically have identical eye and hair colours. 

The condition is self-identified and there is no specific test used to diagnose mirror twins. 

A DNA test can confirm whether twins are identical but there are no markers related to the mirror phenomenon. 

Some examples of mirrored features include: birthmarks, freckles, moles, dimples, ear shape, eye shape, nose shape, hairline, teeth. 

They may also have asymmetrical physiological features, with some sleeping on opposite sides. 

Others have altered gaits, including one leading with their right hand and the other with their left, or one being left-handed and the other right. 

Source: Heathline 

‘Erin is very much straight down the line – what you see is what you get – but Leah is more cheeky and the total opposite!

‘You see quite a lot of twins that are similar personality-wise but with them it is like one person split into two. 

‘Leah’s got a really good sense of humour but Erin doesn’t quite get it – she’s a lot more serious.’ 

Identical twins are the result of a single fertilised egg splitting into two embryos between four and eight days post-conception. 

It is thought that mirror twins are the result of the egg splitting even later, between nine and 12 days, although this has never been proven. 

Mother-of-eleven Zoe said: ‘Twins do run in the family on my side, as my grandad was a twin and I have twin aunties, but they were still a bit of a shock!  

‘I also already had a pair of non-identical twins four years before, and I think part of me knew deep down that they were going to be twins, but I was more shocked they were going to be identical.’ 

Identical twins are the result of a single fertilised egg splitting into two embryos between four and eight days post-conception and it is thought that mirror twins are the result of the egg splitting even later, between nine and 12 days, although this has never been proven

Leah (left) weighed 3lb 4oz and Erin (right) 2lb 6oz at birth, and were hospitalised for six and 10 weeks respectively

The girls were born prematurely at 27 weeks on January 25, 2016, on the eighth birthday of her first set of twins. 

Leah weighed 3lb 4oz and Erin 2lb 6oz at birth, and were hospitalised for six and 10 weeks respectively. 

Leah suffered a collapsed lung, Erin contracted sepsis and had extra fluid in her brain, and both girls had heart murmurs. 

At one point Erin only weighed 810g, and with seven other kids at home at the time, both parents were exhausted. 

Zoe, who is married to the girls’ dad Ben, said: ‘It was a very traumatic time. 

‘Ben was doing half days so could look after the other children while I was in the hospital and then we would swap – I have no idea how we did it!’ 

Zoe admitted that when they were babies it was almost impossible to tell the girls apart.  

Leah (left) suffered a collapsed lung, Erin (right) contracted sepsis and had extra fluid in her brain, and both girls had heart murmurs

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