Your Great-grandmother's Fear of Storks Helped Shape Your Biology

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Back in the dawn of evolutionary theory Lamarck argued that the giraffe got its long neck by stretching to reach trees, its length from "the inherited effects of the increased use of parts." If you daily turn book pages with your big toe, will your future generations also do it? Lamarck and giraffe necks, like Freud and penis envy, is passé. Or is it?

Michael Skinner has entered the scene with "epigenetic changes." What does it mean? And although it makes no claim as idly speculative as Lamarck's is there anything to it? Read on.

"Michael Skinner has just uttered an astounding sentence, but by now he is so used to slaying scientific dogma that his listener has to interrupt and ask if he realizes what he just said. Which was this: 'We just published a paper last month confirming epigenetic changes in sperm which are carried forward transgenerationally. This confirms that these changes can become permanently programmed.'

-- . . .the life experiences of grandparents and even great-grandparents alter their eggs and sperm so indelibly that the change is passed on to their children, grandchildren, and beyond.

--It’s called transgenerational epigenetic inheritance: the phenomenon in which something in the environment alters the health not only of the individual exposed to it, but also of that individual’s descendants.

--A life experience—in Skinner’s study, exposing rats to a fungicide called vinclozolin—alters the on-off switches that control DNA in sperm or eggs. More   Bookmark and Share

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