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Old Lovers and Genetics: Babies Can Inherit Traits of Mother's Old Flame

First Posted: Oct 03, 2014 04:50 PM EDT
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If you love your dad, chances are, you might also like your mother's previous boyfriend.

Recent findings published in the journal Ecology Letters show that based on a fly study, offspring typically look like their mother's previous sexual partner.

For the study, researchers examined genetically engineered male flies. Findings revealed shocking results that showed how offspring determined how the size of the first male mother mated with the last male that sired the offspring.

"Our discovery complicates our entire view of how variation is transmitted across generations, but also opens up exciting new possibilities and avenues of research. Just as we think we have things figured out, nature throws us a curve ball and shows us how much we still have to learn," said lead study author Dr. Angela Crean, in a news release.

Researchers said they believe that telegony happens when the females immature eggs absorb molecules in the seminal fluid of her first mate, with absorption influencing the development of offspring via later mates.

"We found that even though the second male sired the offspring, offspring size was determined by what the mother's previous mating partner ate as a maggot," added Crean.

"Our new findings take this to a whole new level - showing a male can also transmit some of his acquired features to offspring sired by other males," she concluded. "But we don't know yet whether this applies."

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