Mind blowing

I found this experiment mind blowing (Can Previous Mating Partners Influence The Traits Of Future Offspring?):

Perhaps not surprisingly, DNA paternity analyses confirmed that the most recent male partner had indeed sired the offspring in the vast majority of cases. However, the scientists also found that the size of the offspring was strongly related to the size of the female’s first mating partner. At the same time, offspring size was unrelated to the size of the most recent partner, even in cases where there was definitive evidence that the most recent partner was the father. That’s right—the young flies tended to look more like mom’s first mate than they did their dads.

As mentioned in the article we may have a lot more to learn about how traits are inherited.

7 thoughts on “Mind blowing

    • The original paper is here. I didn’t dig in too deep but I didn’t see anything that jumped out at me such that I suspected a poor experiment.

  1. “That’s right—the young flies tended to look more like mom’s first mate than they did their dads.”

    I’ll need to read the paper, but did they take into effect other members of the maternal family?

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot when speculating what my daughter will look like as an adult. Could she be tall and broad shouldered like myself and my wife, or could she be smaller like my mother or my grandmother, or my wife’s aunt who are petite women. Family heritage rarely is solely just parents. I look very much like my father in the face….but I’m stockier than him, and am hairier. My Dad is built more like you, Joe, and as I said my mom is petite, but my Mom’s father, and her brother look much more like me.

    Again, I need to read the paper.

  2. I’ve come across a couple of stories articles about this in recent weeks.Something more than simple recessive genes and such, but something about the “imprint” of the first sex partner. Some in the more religious-conservative side of things are saying it’s a really good reason for girls to not sleep around like men do, because their first choice being the heat of adolescence they are unlikely to make very good choices, and if it can affect their children when they finally do settle down… (of course, those same people find a long list of other reasons for pushing the same ,morality, but it in this case there is potentially more than typical).

  3. They are going to need to show this occurring in a complex mammalian species.
    Their are a LOT of things that take place in the insect world that have no counterparts in mammals.

  4. This is interesting, but it should not be used to draw any firm conclusions as it was only a 200 fly study, and it was only looking for possible evidence of telegony.

    The experimental design had what I consider poor control populations. They didn’t spend a lot of effor to define an average size of well fed and poorly fed fly populations 2nd gen against any sort of baseline. Nor did they get enough data to quantify any telegonic effect (exactly how much influence the first mate had).

    But, the results indicate follow on experiments would be worthwhile.

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