GIRL IS ONE IN A MILLION WHO CAN FOLD HER TONGUE

November 15, 2003 12:00 am

A local girl's tongue may be one in a million.

Dee Dee Christensen, 14, has the ability to fold her tongue from tip to back without using her teeth.

She used to do it to stave off boredom as a child, but said she didn't know it was unusual until a trip to the Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum in Missouri a year ago.

At the museum, Christensen said she learned this genetic trait occurs in about one in a million people.

Christensen wants to know if – despite the odds – anyone else in Brookings or the surrounding area can do it too.

She studied genetics in her Brookings-Harbor High School biology class last month.

Biology Teacher Tim Buehler said every year during the genetics portion of his class one or two students exhibit an interesting genetic trait, including webbed toes.

"Every year somebody comes up with something kind of crazy," Buehler said.

"It's kind of fun to do genetics because these type of things crop up," he said.

Of Christensen's ability, Buehler said "She definitely has kind of a weird one."

According to biological anthropologists at Mount San Antonio College in California, tongue folding is inherited as a recessive trait.

Buehler said it's important to understand the meaning of dominant and recessive traits.

"Dominant and recessive don't mean rare or abundant," he said. "It just means it can be covered by another gene or it can't. Some dominant traits are extremely rare," he said.