Kate Upton look-alike: A Russian student bears a remarkable resemblance to supermodel Kate Upton. What are the odds of two unrelated people looking exactly the same?
A Russian student named Ania tweeted a photo of herself striking the pose made famous by model Kate Upton on the cover of this year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. After Upton herself re-tweeted the image, it went viral, with news outlets referring to Ania as Upton's "dopplegänger."
We'll leave it to others to determine the extent to which Ania resembles the Michigan-born supermodel. But it does raise an interesting question: What are the odds of Upton, or anyone else for that matter, having an unrelated lookalike?
Even though the "identical stranger" is a major plot point in many works of fiction – from "A Tale of Two Cities" to no fewer than three episodes of "Gilligan's Island" – and even though there are some 7 billion people currently living on the planet, the odds of there being an exact physical copy of you are pretty slim. The number of genetic and environmental factors that go into fashioning your appearance is just too large.
Take just the face: A team of Dutch scientists last year announced that they have identified just five genes that determine prominent features of a person's face, including the face's width, the distance between the eyes, and the distance from the tip of the nose to its base. It doesn't sound like much, but no single variant of these genes has a particularly large effect on determining the shape of someone's face, and there are likely hundreds, if not thousands of variations of these five genes.
And that's just the shape. At least six genes govern skin pigmentation, and at least another 15 genes are associated with eye color. The genetics of your hair – its color, thickness, and curliness – is similarly complex.