- HBO's The Outsider, based on the Stephen King book of the same name, premiered Sunday night.
- The series opened with the murder of a young boy and DNA evidence that seemed to indicate Terry Maitland, despite his strong alibi.
- A major question here asks if, perhaps twins could have the same fingerprints. How did his DNA wind up at the crime scene? Are those fingerprints his fingerprints, or does Terry possibly have an evil twin?
A series that pits science and logic against the occult, HBO's The Outsider (based on the Stephen King novel of the same name ), so far, tips toward logicor, at least, the pursuit of such. The show begs viewers to ask if identical twins could have the same fingerprints, and we're here to bring you that answer.
After a brutal small town murder, investigators discover conflicting evidence regarding their prime suspect, Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman). Maitland seems to be in two places at the same time, caught on two separate videotapes in two separate cities. Oh, and his fingerprints were in both places as well. Good luck to that jury.
Of course, instead of chalking this one up to the supernatural, investigators seem adamant in pinning the explanation on some earthly cause. And viewers will probably be assuming the same, namely that Maitland, far from embodying a face-changing presence of pure evil, may just have a non sci-fi doppelgnger, i.e., a twin.
But do identical twins share the same fingerprints?
The answer is a little non-intuitive. You might assume that since identical twins share exact DNA, fingerprints naturally follow. But both assumptions would actually be wrong.
Though identical twins (that means twins who develop from one zygote, or one fertilized egg) share DNA to a greater extent than fraternal twins (or twins who develop from separate eggs), their DNA is actually not identical .
The reason has to do with what's called "epigenetics," or the ways in which gene expression is changed by factors other than the genetic code itself , like environmental circumstanceswhere someone grows up, what that person eats, etc. So that's how identical twins (believed to share all their DNA) can actually vary genetically: one grows up smoking, one doesn't, for example.
Fingerprint formation, on the other hand, is an even different matter and has to do with the pressure exerted on a baby's skin in the womb. One study found that even the different spaces in the womb where identical twins develop provide enough variation to produce unique fingerprints. In short: if identical twins don't share fingerprints, then no two people in the world do.
Does that mean Maitland's DNA couldn't possible be in two places at once? Not necessarily. Due to "DNA transfer" it's possible for us to leave our DNA on things we've never touched . If Maitland has a good defense attorney, you can bet this fact would have been raised.
As for how Maitland appeared on two separate videos in two separate cities, virtually at the same time, well, remember, we're watching a Stephen King property, and in King the occult tends to trample science.