DNAUncategorized Family Photos: Why do people look alike? By Aaron November 16, 2015 Share Share Copy Link Although 60 years may separate two photos, the face is the same. The smile is the same. The ears, the eyes. Although two generations have passed, it’s as if the two photos captured the same person at different moments in time. Genetics play a role in the similarities between us, regardless of being a blood relative. For example, a man in Australia could be genetically identical by 99.9% to a person on another continent who is not his relative. Yet, that 0.1% makes all the difference. We recently held a look-alike photo competition for which we asked users to send in look-alike photos of family members from different generations. The results were incredible. Here is one example below: Born 87 years apart: Great-grandmother Michelle and great-granddaughter Lucy Our genetic material, however, is complex – it contains about 22,000 genes, which are actually genetic commands. Our DNA holds a wealth of information and letters, of which only 10% is understood. According to Professor Dr. Stavit Shalev, director of the Institute of Genetics at the Emek Medical Center in Israel: When we talk about the similarities, we are talking about the materials and the building blocks that make up our tissues. These external and internal tissues, with family members, see similarities in the structure of proteins. Children, Shalev explains, receive their genetic material, including elements of how they look, from each parent, with 50% coming from the mother and 50% from the father. However, this does not mean that the child’s genetic material will be a direct copy of both parents. “The child receives a copy of the features he received from his parents, but the body mixes these features,” Shalev explains. “Proteins and other materials are mixed, and create their own version.” So how do you explain how one person is a replica of a great-grandfather, but that no one else looks like him? According to Shalev, “Every person has their own makeup of genetic material. Even brothers do not get exactly the same traits of their parents. There are traits that are dominant where some features are enhanced, while others are less affected. A grandchild can look similar to a great-grandparent because they have a large genetic similarity of 12.5%. On the other hand, the rest of the genetic makeup can include features that will look very different.” Do you have family members that look like you? Let us know in the comments below!