“Telegony is a scientific theory of heredity holding that offspring can inherit the characteristics of a previous mate of the female parent; thus the child of a woman might partake of traits of a previous sexual partner. ” – Wikipedia
This is a long rumoured phenomenon, with Lord Morton’s mare being a famous example. The mare was mated with a zebra and when later mated with a black stallion, gave birth to foals that showed some striped characteristics in their coats.
According to the Talk Page in Wikipedia, animal breeders will not breed from a pigeon or dog that has mated with a wild specimen because of the assumed effect on subsequent generations.
We need control studies and a scientific explanation:
In Revisiting Telegony, Crean et. al. mated immature female flies with male files who were larger in size because of a highly nutritious diet. When these females later mated with normal size males, the offspring were larger on average than a control population.
“Newly discovered non-genetic mechanisms break the link between genes and inheritance, thereby also raising the possibility that previous mating partners could influence traits in offspring sired by subsequent males that mate with the same female (‘telegony’). In the fly Telostylinus angusticollis, males transmit their environmentally acquired condition via paternal effects on offspring body size. We manipulated male condition, and mated females to two males in high or low condition in a fully crossed design. Although the second male sired a large majority of offspring, offspring body size was influenced by the condition of the first male.” – Crean et al
So we have the characteristic of size, an acquired characteristic (not inherited) which is then passed on to a subsequent generation apparently without being coded into DNA first.
Charles Darwin 1809-1882 of course did not believe in neo-Darwinism or inheritance via DNA as the ideas had not been formulated in his lifetime.
However: “It is certain that ovaria are sometimes affected by a previous impregnation, so that the ovules subsequently fertilized by a distinct male are plainly influenced in character” – Darwin and Murray, 1868.
Darwin certainly believed in the inheritance of acquired characteristics and espoused the idea of Pangenesis which is that information is collected from every part of the body and bundled up into small particles (gemmules) which circulate around the body and end up in either the spermatozoa or ova, thereby enabling the transfer of information to the next generation.
This sort of idea is needed for the inheritance of acquired characteristics. A modern interpretation would need to suppose a two way exchange of information between DNA and the rest of the body so that somatic changes could be encoded back into the germ line for subsequent inheritance.
Prior to the ascendancy of the scientific establishment, it was thought that the inheritance of desirable features had something to do with maintenance of a pure ‘bloodline’. Don’t laugh..
Pyotr Sopikov (1903–1977) performed repeated blood transfusion from black Australorp hens to white Leghorns with the result that the chicks of the white birds started to develop black feathers. The effect increased over the generations and eventually a new stable cross-breed was created.
Many other researchers reproduce similar results and found that not only physical characteristics but also behavioural traits and immune responses could be induced in chicks by blood transfusion into the parents prior to egg laying. – Liu
- Inherited plumage changes
- Increased weight gain in offspring
- Increased reproductive success
- Increased productivity
- Results reproduced by Russian, Swiss, French and other scientists
- Similar results with rabbits
- The offspring of stressed chickens had reduced learning abilities – Liu
- Induced and specific immune responses were inherited
- Repeated grafting of aubergine plants resulted in a new variety
Xenia. In the picture, each sweetcorn kernel has been fertilised by a different pollen grain from a multitude of different plants and each seed will go on to form a new plant with possibly hybrid characteristics.. So here we have an immediate transfer of genetic information and an inheritable effect before inheritance has even taken place! – Wikipedia
Various mechanisms have been proposed:
- Nucleic acids – functioning as Darwin’s gemmules
- Proteins functioning as genes – inherited prions again acting as gemmules
- Contactless information transfer from the semen to the immature ova of the fly
- Foetal genes in the mother’s blood from a previous pregnancy affect the current embryo
- Altered uterosome – Genetic information from the sperm somehow infiltrates the walls of the uterus and changes the genetic structure, passing on the information in subsequent pregnancies – Nejabati et al
- Wave genetics – genes are field-like structures and transfer information via resonance to the physical structure of the female, leaving a permanent imprint on the genetic apparatus of the female – Gariaev et al
Peter Gariaev 1942-2020 specifically identifies genetic information as wave-like in nature as opposed to classical theory which envisages a particular ordering of DNA base pairs, or as above, a specific conformation of a prion protein. This is natural for a physicist and solves the problem of having to say how the information is stored.
The point is that molecular biologist are fixated upon a physical storage medium such as nucleic acid or proteins for information storage but less specific on how it is moved around the organism. A prion for example is a malformed protein whose shape can propagate to other proteins, thereby initiating some king of information transfer. The mechanism by which this happens though is never specified. If information is moving from one molecule to another than there must be some time in between when it still exists but is not hosted by any physical substance. The answer will be some kind of field structure whether electromagnetic, electro-acoustic or ‘other’.
“The Wave genetics considers telegony as a real life example of DNA phantom effect, and views it as a striking confirmation of Wave genetics principles. In this case the first male leaves his wave signature i.e. he “imprints” his DNA phantom in the genetic apparatus of the female. It appears that this phantom is more powerful than DNA phantoms of other males.” – Gariaev et al
The need for genetic information to be distributed to all parts of the body, for it to be mutable and for changes in any part to be registered in the sperm or ova ready for the next generation suggests a distributed field structure whose nature is unknown as are the media in which it propagates and the mechanisms by which it interacts with the physical substance of the organism.
A morphogenetic field of some sort is suspected with possibly holographic properties, meaning that all parts of the field contain information about all other parts of the field.
There is much discussion over the mechanisms by which information is inherited but less over what it is that the information represents and how it is encoded. The inheritance of ‘blue eyes’ for example is not just a bit of blue dye passing from mother to child but an entire goal oriented production process that is somehow encoded, preserved and communicated?
Revisiting telegony: Offspring inherit an acquired characteristic of their mother’s previous mate – Crean, Kopps, Bonduriansky.
Fetal genes in mother’s blood: A novel mechanism for telegony? – Yongsheng Liu
Uterosomes: The lost ring of telegony? – Nejabati, Roshangar, Noun.
A new perspective on Darwin’s Pangenesis – Yongsheng Liu
Telegony, the sire effect and non-mendelian inheritance mediated by spermatozoa: a historical overview and modern mechanistic speculations
Author: – Y.S Liu
Like father like son. A fresh review of the inheritance of acquired characteristics– Yongsheng Liu
Principles of linguistic wave-genetics – Peter Gariaev et. al.
Lord Morton’s Mare – Wikipedia
Pangenesis – Wikipedia