# Miss Danner and the Elmer Boys

Miss Danner, a primary school teacher, is on her way to school - it's the first day of school this year.
In class, she sees two identically looking boys sitting in the first row.

Aw, twins, so cute!

she exclaims.

We aren't twins.

the boys respond unisono.

Miss Danner - astounded - doesn't comment it further. After class, she takes a look into their school files and finds the following:

Thomas Elmer
born 5.2.2008
contact person(s):
Franz Elmer (father), telephone 013579
Sophie Elmer (mother), telephone 012468

Maximilian Elmer
born 5.2.2008
contact person(s):
Franz Elmer (father), telephone 013579
Sophie Elmer (mother), telephone 012468


(I thought this was taken care of by using the word identically, but here you go: Miss Danner is very curious, so that on the next parents meeting, she takes DNA samples from the parents. As Maximilian and Thomas attend her class, it is not a problem for her to acquire samples from the boys, too. She takes all four samples to the lab and the laboratory technician tells her that the two boys are undoubtedly the children of Franz and Sophie (and no one else). The lab technician did everything right and no one in the story is lying. Both the boys were naturally born by Sophie on the same day in the same hospital.)

How is that possible?

They're triplets, or have even more identical siblings than that, making them still identical siblings, but not twins.

• Atypical birth records:
Mr. and Mrs. Elmer travel frequently, while traveling their first child was born in a region where the date is recorded month/day/year, and another was born ~12 weeks later in a region where it is recorded day/month/year. The boys share the same DNA but do not consider themselves twins because of the disparity between their birth days.
• Premature births + Plastic Surgery:
As a subset of the previous archetype, The Elmers got their birth certificates in different regions and conceived two children separately. A horrible accident scared both children and they received plastic surgery to try and give them normal lives. Unfortunately the doctor was a hack and only knew how to build one type of face. Now they look identical.
• Not Technically lying:
They aren't twins, they are Super twins, a term sometimes used to refer to identical twins (or any number of other terms which a sarcastic 6 year old might enjoy using).

I'm sure there are more.

• You should not opinionate in your answer, but rather post a suggestion or an edit to improve the question. Beacause actually it is a nice riddle but could possibly be formulated more strictly Sep 29 '14 at 11:41
• Does it still count as a riddle if there are dozens of equally correct answers? Sep 29 '14 at 16:56
• Yes, it would even count as a riddle if there were dozens of other correct answers, which there aren't. Even you had to change identically to similarities for your answer to seem plausible. Sep 29 '14 at 17:47
• I think this demonstrates the issue with these types of questions really well. The only "right" answer in your mind is the one you thought of initially (because you think look alikes never happen naturally) when in fact I could come up with another 4-5 ways for all of this to happen even after you added the extra requirements. Which would compel you to change the question again, and again, and eventually we see its more of a "guess which number I'm thinking of" puzzle, which isn't a puzzle at all. Sep 29 '14 at 18:13
• I think if there are a few good answers it is still a riddle - or else all riddles would have to be pure mathematic and logic in nature, the only strict science. I think we should allow for a little leeway, as long as the decision if an answer is correct is not arbitrarily, but based on the requirements of the riddle. So this riddle should maybe state that the correct answer is no contrived family-plot and both live actually with their real birthparents :-P Sep 29 '14 at 20:24

I'm coming across this question rather late, but given recent news about an apparent serial surrogate father, both babies could have been co-incidentally born on the same day to two separate surrogate mothers.

Whether five-year-olds would be aware of such details and able to understand they were not twins is of course another matter.

• "Both the boys were naturally born by Sophie" - therefore not to two separate surrogate mothers Oct 26 '14 at 13:46

Easy. One was born at one point in the day, one at another. Since they weren't born at the same time, they don't consider themselves twins.

• Twins can never be born at the exact same moment (naturally). Oct 26 '14 at 1:58

I think the standard answer I around here for a similar question is that they are not twins because there are in fact 3 of them and the third one is in a different school, so they are not twins, rather they are triplets.

• This is a duplicate answer. Nov 7 '14 at 18:50
• @kaine that is a duplicate name :P
– Cain
Jun 26 '15 at 0:11

The boys are born naturally on the same day to Sophia. Which means that they could not be identical or the boys would have been lying. It also means that they cannot be fraternal twins or the boys would be lying. One child or both children were fertilized outside the mother. at least one of the eggs was then implanted in the mother who either had or will have a naturally fertilized egg grow in her or two eggs from different fertilizations were implanted at the same approximate time. Either way she has two eggs growing in her who are not twins which she delivers at the same time

• Welcome to Puzzling SE! (Take the Tour!) This question was answered over two years ago with an answer accepted as correct, which demonstrates it is entirely possible for the boys to be telling the truth about not being twins. It's a good idea to look at existing answers before providing one of your own, and it's generally not fruitful to look at long-ago posed and answered questions - try looking at the newer stuff! Hope to see you around!
– Rubio
Feb 22 '17 at 20:35