An early competitor to Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection was Lamarckism. Posed by French scientist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, the theory said that organisms could pass on characteristics acquired within their lifetimes — giraffes, for example, might stretch their necks as they reach for leaves higher on a tree, then pass those longer necks on to their offspring. Science has since named Darwin the resounding winner of that theoretical battle, but new research suggests that although Lamarck didn't have the big picture right, he may have been onto something. That research deals with epigenetics: the way that outside influences like environment and nutrition can actually change the way your genes are expressed, and pass those changes to your kids.
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Key Facts In This Video
The epigenome doesn't change your DNA, but it decides how much or whether different genes are expressed in different cells in your body. 02:02
If your genome (DNA) is the hardware of the computer, the epigenome is the software. 03:24
Some of your epigenetic information is passed from generation to generation. 04:56
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