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Difference Between Twins and Clones

Twins vs Clones

Twins and clones are often misidentified with each other because they both look physically the same on the outside. The identical twins, in particular, are really the same with clones in the physical sense. However, there are some technicalities that differentiate the two.

When a mother will give birth to two offspring, the resulting newborn babies are called twins. These two beings can either be fraternal (non-identical) and identical twins. It is the latter which has the same phenotype (observable characteristics of a living being) and genotype (genetic makeup). As a result, identical twins look exactly the same with each other. This is possible because they were a product of the splitting of one zygote (a fertilized egg cell or ovum) into two different embryos. Fraternal twins are different because two ova have been fertilized by different sperm cells. The resulting twins will not look the same with each other. Thus, they can be of different sexes.

Clones are products of a breakthrough procedure in bioengineering called cloning. Although this has been a highly debated practice and has been rigorously questioned because of its ethical implications, cloning is still being done up to this day because of its scientific significance. The clone is artificially made in a Petri plate unlike in the case of twins wherein the fertilization is done internally in the mother’s womb.

In a cloning procedure, the successfully engineered embryo is manually split and then implanted in different wombs (now termed as the surrogate mother). The surrogate mother will then be the one to nourish, develop, and then deliver the baby. Clones are almost the same with the case of identical twins because the clone has been developed from one zygote or cell obtained from a single donor. That’s why they are still genetically identical. Also, this is one of the reasons why some regard identical twins as natural clones.

Another method of cloning is through somatic cell transplant. These are all the other cells of the body except the gametes and germ cells. Unlike germ cells (cells that are responsible in producing the organism’s sex cells or gametes), somatic cell sets are artificially inserted into the germ cell nuclear region whose original nucleus has already been removed previously. The rest of the procedure follows almost the same steps as the ordinary cloning process.

1. Twins are formed naturally unlike clones that are artificial in nature. Identical twins are considered as natural clones.
2. Twins result from the natural splitting of one zygote or the fertilization of two ova while clones are a result of the harvesting of a foreign somatic cell or foreign ovum from a donor and then later having it implanted into a surrogate mother, usually enhanced or engineered with the DNA of another donor.
3. Twins are naturally born altogether (almost at the same time) as opposed to clones that are usually created at a much later time.
4. Clones can also be made from one somatic cell.

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