London, Jan 28 (ANI): Scientists have rejected claims that the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, who was notorious for his experiments at Auschwitz in Poland, was responsible for creating a tribe of twins in a small town in Brazil during the 1960s.
According to a report in New Scientist, in his book, 'Mengele: The Angel Of Death In South America', Argentine historian Jorge Camarasa claims that Mengele made regular trips to Linha Sao Pedro, a small and predominantly German settlement near the city of Candido Godoi in Brazil, during the 1960s.
"Shortly afterwards, the birth rate of twins began to spiral," he said.
However, Ursula Matte of the medical genetics unit at Porto Alegre Hospital in Brazil and her colleagues have rejected any notion that Mengele was responsible for the phenomenon.
Her team was invited to Linha Sao Pedro during 1994 to investigate reports of a higher than average number of twin births in the town.
From 1990 to 1994, the proportion of twin births in Linha Sao Pedro was 10 percent, compared to 1.8 percent for rest of the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
"Even though we could not find a definitive explanation for this higher incidence, the existence of other 'twin towns' around the world - most of them in remote isolated areas with high levels of inbreeding just as Linha Sao Pedro - shows that external influence is not needed for this to happen," Matte said.
Her team interviewed and conducted blood tests on 17 of the 22 pairs of twins living in Linha Sao Pedro, around half of which were identical twins.
Genealogical analysis showed a high recurrence of multiple births within families, as well as a high level of inbreeding within the community, suggesting the presence of genetic twinning factors.
According to Matte, the high level of inbreeding, combined with an absence of twins every other generation would suggest a recessive trait.
Although Camarasa argues that the high prevalence of blonde hair and blue eyes among the twins could be evidence of Mengele's "Aryanising" influence, Matte points out that the village was founded by German immigrants who often have such features.
"In addition, I don't think Mengele would have the knowledge, not to mention the means, to engender the rise in twin births in this community," said Matte.
"It's noteworthy that twin births occurred there in almost every time period, even in the 1990s, so what kind of long-lasting manipulation could he have perpetrated?" she added. (ANI)