If you found yourself playing “Baby Looks Like” bingo and had that one square you couldn’t stamp, it might be because you didn’t add “my spouse’s ex-boyfriend” to the card. Turns out that a recent study found that maybe – just maybe – your baby inherited some of their looks from an old notch on mom’s bedpost.
This study out of the University of New South Wales has it all: sperm, sex, doubt, fear, and past lovers. Oh, and fruit flies. And because of that, I guess, no technical link to human babies, but let’s not mire in the details here, people.
I know you’re skeptical (and I like that about you), so it’s important that you know that this study, called “Revisiting telegony: offspring inherit an acquired characteristic of their mother’s previous mate” was published in the September issue of Ecology Letters. For those not in the know, Ecology Letters is THE source for letters about ecology.
So, basically, researchers took a bunch of fruit flies and made them have sex. Each female fruit fly was given two partners of two different sizes. And what’s hinkey is that the offspring from the second male fruit fly actually ended up a similar size as the initial non-offspring-bearing partner.
So, in human terms, you remember your wife’s ex-boyfriend Nathan that she always randomly brings up? Like, you pass by some restaurant on the way to picking your kid up from school, and your wife says “Nathan and I used to always go to that restaurant” and then sighs? Dude, now imagine if your kid looked like Nathan. I’m not sayin’ your wife is cheating, because she’s not. And I’m not sayin’ that the kid is Nathan’s. I’m just saying that something about your kid looks kind of like that one picture of Nathan that she showed you when she was all “LOL Nathan found me on Facebook, it’s cool if I add him, right?”
We’re still talking about fruit flies, right? I don’t even know! Are you a fruit fly? IS NATHAN A FRUIT FLY?!
Study researchers, Angela J. Crean, Anna M. Kopps and Russell Bonduriansky, said that “semen-mediated effects” might be to blame; molecules in the first partner’s semen might be absorbed by the female’s immature eggs, granting them certain characteristics of the first partner. When those eggs are fertilized by the second partner, some of the genetic gunk from the first partner is still there, influencing development.
Quoth the researchers: “Our results reveal a novel type of transgenerational effect with potential implications for the evolution of reproductive strategies.”
If you chuckled after reading that, you’re the kind of person we wanted to punch in high school. Just sayin’.
Anywho, don’t panic, dudes – there’s no link (YET, SUCKERS) to humans. “I think it’s impossible to say whether this could apply to humans without further studies in a more related species like a mouse,” said Associate Professor John Parrington, Lecturer in Cellular & Molecular Pharmacology at Oxford University.
So when you look at your baby and wonder where he got that butt-chin from, chances are it was you, you freak.