Evolution Unleashed

Evolution Unleashed

Is evolutionary science due for a major overhaul – or is talk of “revolution” misguided?

Aeon, 2018

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The next generation does not inherit the changes that happen during their parents’ lives. Or do they? A new area of research, epigenetics, challenges the idea that life experiences do not influence offspring. While a body builder does not give birth to a muscular baby, the exercise might influence the baby’s genes. Evolutionary biologist Kevin Laland explores new epigenetics research and scientists’ response. This article will engage anyone interested in the “evolution revolution,” and how decisions in the present can change lives in the future.


Epigenetics is the study of gene modification and regulation.

Genes exhibit various levels of expression and the result is a creature’s phenotype. Epigenetics is the regulation of gene expression and both external and internal influences. These influences can modulate the epigenetic changes to genes and thus the phenotype. This process occurs in both humans and other organisms. Generally, the epigenetic changes that occur do not influence the sex cells, the sperm and egg.

Yet researchers have reported that animals pass on epigenetic changes to the ...

About the Author

Kevin Laland is a professor of behavioral and evolutionary biology at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and leads the extended evolutionary synthesis research program. 

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