The effects of an animal’s environment during adolescence can be passed down to future offspring, according to two new studies. If applicable to humans, the research, done on rodents, suggests that the impact of both childhood education and early abuse could span generations. The findings provide support for a 200-year-old theory of evolution that has been largely dismissed: Lamarckian evolution, which states that acquired characteristics can be passed on to offspring.
The article goes on to say that “epigenetic” changes (heritable changes to the penetrance or expression of genes, but not their sequence) can still be reproduced in second and third generations of mice without the presence of attendant environmental factors that triggered the changes in the first generation. In short, the benefits that Granny mice got from stimulating environments can still show up in grandbaby mice, despite the lack of a similarly-stimulating environment. Ditto for abuse: the impact of your grandparent’s abuse will still be felt by your brain, and probably your children’s brains.
Which makes this little snippet that I wrote all the richer:
“First you should find a nice human guy,” he said, pacing back and forth before a little fire of twigs he’d built. “Someone who’ll take care of you. Lots of VN chicks do that. Your mom, for one. Anyway, you settle down, and then iterate like there’s no tomorrow.”
Amy looked down at Junior. Already he seemed capable of focusing on her. His huge, dark eyes regarded her calmly. Amy wondered if maybe he saw Granny waiting, like a spider at the centre of her web, behind her eyes.
All your children will be stained with me. And your children’s children. I will live forever in their bones.
“I’m not sure I want to,” Amy said, staring at Junior to keep her eyes off Javier.