Lamarck Vindicated?


I had a college roommate who was fond of defending Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, an 18th century scientist famous for espousing “soft inheritence”, or the ability to pass down to your offspring traits you have acquired as an adult.  I remember one argument in particular where this friend was adamant that keeping your abdominals in shape was certain to improve your unborn’s physique.  This seems silly to us, as the last couple centuries of science have shown that you are born with a set of genes that shape most of who you are and who you can be, and any extra tweaking you do around the edges has no bearing on your genes or consequently on your children.

But a study out today forces me to begrudgingly report that there may be a tiny sliver of scientific evidence for Lamarckian inheritence.  Specifically, researchers found that exposing young mice to frightening situations or increased education can influence the ability of their progreny to form memories.

If you are into kinase-dependent signaling cascades and the like, you can read the details here.  I’m off to hit the Ab Lounger.

February 16, 2009 4:00 pm

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