It’s just not hot anymore. In a media release about a project in epigenetics:
Until just a decade ago, the idea of epigenetic inheritance would have made Greer an object of scientific ridicule.
The prevailing evolutionary dogma has been natural selection, as put forth by Darwin: Individuals that acquire a beneficial trait through a random change in their DNA are more likely to survive and reproduce, thereby passing the trait on to their progeny.
But before Darwin, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck posited that individuals can purposefully acquire new traits—like giraffes’ necks lengthening to reach the highest leaves—and pass them down in their genetic code.
Scientists dismissed Lamarck’s views for close to two centuries, but recent evidence suggests that he was on to something.
A 2016 study, for example, found an increased risk of diabetes and hypertension in the children and even grandchildren of people who lived through extreme famine in China, well after the famine had passed.
Greer thinks this represents a metabolic adaptation to starvation and that inherited epigenetic information helps prepare subsequent generations for the possibility that sufficient food might not be available.
“It’s pretty accepted now that there is epigenetic inheritance,” he said. “The big unknown is how it happens and what is specifically transmitted.
“Those are the questions we are trying to tackle.”Nancy Fliesler, “Beyond DNA” at Harvard Medical School News and Research
Game. Changed. “Scientific ridicule” ain’t what it used to be. Please, let evidence matter again.
See also: Epigenetic change: Lamarck, wake up, you’re wanted in the conference room!
Follow UD News at Twitter!