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Lamarckism not quite revived.

Laura Sanders described mice passing on the fear of a smell to their offspring in "Fear can be inherited" (SN: 1/11/14, p. 13). "Isn't that Lamarckian evolution?" e-mailed Paul Hyer. Not exactly, Sanders says. "In the early 1800s, before genes were found to carry heritable information, French naturalist Jean-Baptlste Lamarck argued that environmental influences can shape an animal and its descendants in specific ways.

Epigenetics, in which the environment changes gene behavior without altering the genes themselves, has given a glimmer of hope to die-hard Lamarckians. Epigenetics does allow traits acquired during an organism's lifetime to be passed on to offspring. Because epigenetic changes can affect many aspects of an organism, the process boosts genetic variation overall, but does not promote specific changes as Lamarck might have argued. Those variations then become fodder for natural selection to act on."
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Title Annotation:FEEDBACK
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Feb 22, 2014
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