National Geographic

Do Mice Really Inherit the Fears of Their Fathers? Scientists React.

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  1. Roy Niles
    November 19, 2013

    Adaptive mutation. How else did you think it worked? Or do you still assume that intelligent behaviors are inherited as accidentally acquired instincts?
    And no, that’s not Lamarckism ether, but he was getting us there.

  2. Pan Outeast
    December 21, 2013

    On the Lamarckian comments… this is really well-poisoning. The hypothesis here is not Lamarckian in an real meaningful sense of the word. It is not valid to dismiss a new hypothesis solely on the grounds that in a very limited way, and entirely coincidentally, they overlap with the bogus theories of a crank from a century ago. (It would hardly be the first time that politically or ideologically motivated nonsense has turned out to overlap in such a superficial and coincidental way with scientific fact; 17th century puritanical rejections of smoking, to take a very simple example).

    On a rather more speculative note… and maybe I’m being obtuse here (I’ll be the first to admit to ignorance). But we have strong evidence for the heritability of [vulnerability to] some mental illness, including illness that surely affects reproductive fitness. On the face of it, recurrent and similar random genetic mutation is an unlikely source. But the idea that these inheritances go back into biological deep time is also counterintuitive for a trait that has a negative effect on fitness. So whence come such heritable vulnerabilities? Some kind of epigenetic mechanism would seem to me to be at least plausible enough to investigate.

  3. Alfredo Fort
    August 27, 2014

    Is it that far fetched an idea? We now know of well described systems of long-distance, cross organ communication, not only via hormones, but also microRNA, and all the various varieties of RNAs, not to mention microexosomes carrying signaling proteins, and all you would need are changes to methylation states or specific miRNA levels.

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