Friday, July 28, 2006

The Fears of Our Forebears

An article today at explores the possibility that our ancestors' experiences are written into our DNA.

Let’s say you have always had a significant fear of bears since you were a child. Even Smokey the Bear and other friendly Hollywood bears could not convince you to regard bears with anything but anxiety and fearful feelings.

Maybe it is possible that deep, deep within your DNA memory banks, your great-great-great-great-grandmother or great-great-great-great-grandfather had a very bad experience with a bear two hundred years ago. Maybe they saw someone be killed by a bear. Maybe they had to climb a tree to save themselves from being eaten by a bear.

Would a life-changing experience like this, resulting in knowledge very useful for survival, possibly be encoded in the DNA and passed on to future generations and you? [Link]
No explanation is offered how getting chased by a bear might alter one's genetic makeup. I can confirm the theory, though: One of my ancestors was attacked by his wife, and I was born with an intense fear of commitment.

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