Magazine Sneak Peek: Darwin Debunked?

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Sam Kean is a favorite of ours on staff. We geeked out on his pieces explaining Carbon Trading and covering a Natural Nuclear Reactor in Oklo, Nigeria. This month, he's profiling the new field of epigenetics and how maybe Darwinists shouldn't have derided LaMarcke's theories so much. This story of how mice could eat something, and it could affect their grandchildren really struck me.

According to Darwin, creatures with disadvantages have to die out, or at least not reproduce much, for evolution to occur. But genomes are proving to be more plastic. In one recent study, researchers looked at the genetic consequences of feeding pregnant mice an extra-fatty diet. Not surprisingly, the diet had a bad effect on the children, who had problems metabolizing insulin and became obese. Strangely though, when the obese mice had children of their own, the next generation had already adapted. The grandchildren of the original test group emerged longer and leaner, probably to help them carry extra weight.

The effects on the grandchildren suggests that the fatty diet had affected offspring in an epigenetic way. But the clinching detail was that fathers could eat a high-fat diet and pass on the longer, leaner body type to their children, even when the mothers had eaten a normal diet.

The story's pretty fascinating, and delves into a little Swedish hamlet that faced famine, and how future generations lived far longer as a result of it. Insane!

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February 18, 2009 - 4:20am
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