A story from a week or so back in Technology Review describes research coming to the surprising conclusion that Jean-Baptiste Lamarck may have been right — that acquired characteristics can be passed on to offspring
, at least in rodents. Lamarck's ideas have been controversial for 200 years, and dismissed in mainstream scientific thinking for nearly that long. "In Feig's study, mice genetically engineered to have memory problems were raised in an enriched environment — given toys, exercise, and social interaction — for two weeks during adolescence. The animals' memory improved... The mice were then returned to normal conditions, where they grew up and had offspring. This next generation of mice also had better memory, despite having the genetic defect and never having been exposed to the enriched environment."