Quirks & Quarks

The Earliest Record of Human Twins

7,700 year old remains have been discovered of a mother who died giving birth to twins.
This Siberian mother died giving birth to twins. The small bones in the pelvic region belong to the children. (Vladimir Bazaliskii)
A skeleton exhumed from a Neolithic hunter-gatherer cemetery in Siberia in 1997 was, at first, thought to be one of the oldest archaeologically documented examples of death during childbirth.

But when Dr. Angela Lieverse, a bio-archaeologist from the University of Saskatchewan, examined the 7,700-year-old remains, she found something else - the presence of an additional set of bones of two full-term babies.

The position of the bones suggest that one baby was breech and in the process of being born. The woman - possibly in her early 20's - died along with both babies during childbirth and likely unaware she was carrying twins. This find is the earliest confirmed set of human twins on record.

Related Links

Paper in Antiquity
University of Saskatchewan release
CBC News story 
Dr. Lieverse previously on Quirks