Australian study found a female’s offspring can resemble mom’s previous sexual partner instead of the father

Telegony, which originated with the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, is the idea that a male can leave a mark on his mate’s body which influences her offspring with a different male. Telegony was popular as a scientific hypothesis in the 1800s and used as a fear tactic to prevent women from copulating with different races or lower classes. The notion was rejected in the early 1900s as incompatible with the new science of genetics.

Building on recent advances in our understanding of inheritance that offspring‐parent resemblance cannot be explained solely by the transmission of parental genes, a trio of Australian scientists — University of New South Wales scientists Dr. Angela Crean, Professor Russell Bonduriansky and Dr. Anna Kopps — discovered a modern form of telegony in fruit flies, wherein the offspring can resemble their mother’s previous sexual partner.

Their study is published in “Revisiting telegony: offspring inherit an acquired characteristic of their mother’s previous mate,” Ecology Letters, Sept. 30, 2014.

According to the scientists’ press release, they hypothesized that molecules in the seminal fluid of the a male fruit fly can be absorbed by the female’s immature eggs and then influence the growth of her offspring sired by a subsequent male. 

The Experiment

The scientists produced two groups of male flies, large and small, by feeding them diets as larvae that were high or low in nutrients. Males that are well-fed as larvae go on to produce big offspring.

The female fruit flies, when immature, were mated with either a large or a small male. Once the females had matured, they were mated again with either a big or a small male, and their offspring were studied.

Findings

The scientists found that the size of the young was determined by the size of the first male the mother mated with, rather than the second male who sired the offspring.

Lead author Dr. Crean said:

“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. We know that features that run in families are not just influenced by the genes that are passed down from parents to their children. Various non-genetic inheritance mechanisms make it possible for maternal or paternal environmental factors to influence characteristics of a child. Our discovery complicates our entire view of how variation is transmitted across generations….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. But we don’t know yet whether this applies to other species.

Below is the study’s Abstract:

Newly discovered non‐genetic mechanisms break the link between genes and inheritance, thereby also raising the possibility that previous mating partners could influence traits in offspring sired by subsequent males that mate with the same female (‘telegony’). In the fly Telostylinus angusticollis, males transmit their environmentally acquired condition via paternal effects on offspring body size. We manipulated male condition, and mated females to two males in high or low condition in a fully crossed design. Although the second male sired a large majority of offspring, offspring body size was influenced by the condition of the first male. This effect was not observed when females were exposed to the first male without mating, implicating semen‐mediated effects rather than female differential allocation based on pre‐mating assessment of male quality. Our results reveal a novel type of transgenerational effect with potential implications for the evolution of reproductive strategies.

To ascertain that the mechanism by which the offspring’s size is determined, not by its biological father, but by the semen of the mother’s previous sexual partner, Crean repeated the studies with an unfortunate group of male flies who had their genitalia glued down so they could not pass on any semen during their encounters. When these males, both large and small, were the first “mates” for females, their size did not have an effect on the offspring when the female mated with her second mate and had offspring. (Time)

Dana Dovey writes for Medical Daily, October 1, 2014:

To answer the question that I’m sure is on every one of your minds, no the researchers are not yet sure whether this phenomenon exists in any other species, but testimony of many experienced breeders suggests this phenomenon exists in other species. [It’s a long-held belief among animal breeders that pure-bred progeny are best produced by females who have never mated before.] As for humans, I don’t even want to begin opening that can of worms, but Crean did tell Medical Daily in an email that she’s not ruling out this possibility.

“There is no evidence of such effects in humans, but there has not been any research on this possibility in humans. There is a potential for such effects in mammals,” explained Crean. “For example, there is a lot of foetal DNA in maternal blood during pregnancy, and this could potentially play a role in such effects. There is also evidence in mammals that seminal fluid affects offspring development, so semen from one male could potentially influence the development of eggs fertilized by another male (which is what we think is happening in flies).”

Crean added that due to ethical restraints it would be difficult to conduct a similar experiment on humans.

Needless to say, if the telegony discovered in fruit flies is true also for humans, the implications are serious. At a minimum, it should give women pause to reconsider how sexual promiscuity can affect their future children.

See also “Baby in womb protects mom from disease, even if she aborts“.

~Eowyn

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JCscuba
JCscuba
1 year ago

Hypothesis ? Perhaps. Would it stand up to scientific scrutiny, Nope. J.C.

cogitoergosumantra
1 year ago

Well, it was a study on FRUIT FLIES that were apparently subjected to a Biden-like coupling while under-aged. I don’t see how it applies to (most) humans.

josephbc69
1 year ago

Okay readers, I want you all to think very, very hard and use your imaginations: see yourself as the lab worker who’s charged with gluing down the male flies genitalia. How does it feel to have such a very crucial job on the order of brain surgery… just one of life’s many challenges!

William
William
1 year ago

Interesting but inconclusive. It remains to be seen if their results are reproducible. It seems that the only trait that was tracked was “size”. So many variables to control for. But those poor “unfortunate” flies..ouch. Sounds cruel. I hope PETA doesn’t get ahold of this

William
William
1 year ago

Sure. How would she know? 🙂

Jackie Puppet
1 year ago

? But don’t all fruit flies look alike?

Auntie Lulu
Auntie Lulu
1 year ago
Reply to  Jackie Puppet

Jackie . . . To me they sure do!

YouKnowWho
YouKnowWho
1 year ago

In all seriousness, such research is not necessarily folly. It depends on whether one thinks such knowledge is important. Does anybody want or need to know such information? Is there any reason that they should? After all, it is only a possible concept of how life works. I certainly don’t want to pay for their research, but if they want to donate their knowledge to humanity, go for it.

Auntie Lulu
Auntie Lulu
1 year ago
Reply to  YouKnowWho

YouKnowWho . . . The very first thing that popped into my mind . . . was any US taxpayer monies put up for researching this? I certainly hope not! I realize that this research was done in Australia, but you just never know what ideas US Congress members think we should be paying for !!!!!

Auntie Lulu
Auntie Lulu
1 year ago
Reply to  Dr. Eowyn

Dr Eowyn . . . I see that we have once again a troll amongst us. Why would anyone give Dr Eowyn’s comment a “thumb’s down?” I think it is very pertinent to society as a whole, to question the wisdom of “sexual promiscuity of our time!” My best friend just died this last November. We had been friends since Freshman year in high school, so since 1960. Her daughter reached out to me on Facebook, and we have started a rather sweet relationship. On my part, I miss Marilyn, and on her part she is missing her Mother. As… Read more »

Lophatt
Lophatt
1 year ago
Reply to  Auntie Lulu

Looks like Dr. Crean didn’t use enough glue.

Lophatt
Lophatt
1 year ago
Reply to  Dr. Eowyn

Me too!

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

Lemme guess, the offspring looked like fruit flies… great scholarship there.

CalGirl
CalGirl
1 year ago

Thank You Jesus, I am not a fruit fly, and my kids look like me and their dad. I just found a picture of my old boyfriend on the web (while searching f for something else in my hometown newspaper) —–who never married, remained in our old home town, and turned into a 400 lb coin collector once he retired…..OY! IMO, this study proves that all frutiflies should take paternity tests once notified of offspring(s).

Lophatt
Lophatt
1 year ago

There is a nun who is also a medical doctor that teaches that male seminal fluid is absorbed by the female and causes certain hormonal and enzyme changes that tend to keep the female with her mate. She has studied this for years and claims that unions create more than just chances for impregnation. She thinks that it is also a factor in women staying with a mate since raising a human child takes such a long time. When I was in college we did an experiment with planeria (flatworms). We “trained” them to squelch up when exposed to light.… Read more »

l
l
1 year ago
Reply to  Lophatt

Nice comment Lophatt. I agree. “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in our philosophy”

Somehow this all takes me back to our discussion once again, of DNA and how it changes with our environment and experiences, and the fact that they have found the DNA of the sexual partners in womens’ brains. What’s up with all this? Far more than we can know I think.

William
William
1 year ago
Reply to  Lophatt

Agree, the role of “genetics” is vastly overstated and utterly simplistic. Epigenetic factors have turned out to have far more significance as well the role of the formidably and mind-bogglingly complex gene regulatory networks. The most cutting-edge research is revealing a degree of complexity and precision at the molecular level that just ten years ago was not even imagined or imaginable. The more we “know”, the more we realize we don’t know. re: Climate Change (TM). I beg to differ, respectfully of course. We know more than enough, with absolute certainty, to conclude that the only warming in the recent… Read more »

Lana
Lana
1 year ago
Reply to  William

Wow, from flies and DNA to Climate Change- now there’s a range!
Seriously, I think we all agree here on the Climate Change Hoax. You were conservative in your criticism on the stats and reasoning. I could write a litany here on the holes of their “case closed”, and “it’s decided and unanimous climate science”, but this is off subject, so suffice to say, two things stand glaringly absent in all their models….The Sun and the Chemtrails.

William
William
1 year ago
Reply to  Lana

There’s seems to be some latitude here with comments. I try not to stray too far off-topic but I’m not always successful. I was commenting, as an aside and not part of the general conversation re: fruit flies, on Lophatt’s remark about C. Change. He seems to equivocate somewhat on the topic but is otherwise very well-informed about many things. I was trying to reinforce the idea that the science is indeed settled and it is completely at variance with the master narrative, i.e. AGW. Legitimate science is in short supply these days, “science” is the cultural dominant. “Science” tells… Read more »

Lana
Lana
1 year ago
Reply to  William

Not preachy at all! I really enjoy your comments William. I was just just being silly with my comment about how one subject and observation can end up being extrapolated or tied to something so seemingly remote ( but relevant). Pay no mind to me. I should know better than to post something that can be taken the wrong way- so easy to do with failed humor.

William
William
1 year ago
Reply to  Lana

Yes, the sun, the one primary and obvious climate driver that they completely ignore. Sun? What sun? Oh yeah, that thing. Chemtrails I used to relegate to tin-foil hat status but I don’t now. I just haven’t researched it much. My limited understanding is that they are spraying aerosols into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight and potentiate cooling. I’m sure there is much more to it than that

Lophatt
Lophatt
1 year ago
Reply to  William

Great remarks. Lest I be accused of something I did not intend to imply, I am not saying that “Climate Change” (in the sense we normally discuss it) is “proven”. Quite the opposite. I’m saying to actually have a meaningful trend we would need data over a space of time long before they started paying attention to it. We don’t have that and we couldn’t make a realistic judgement based on the narrow amount of time since the sky started to fall. My comment on sexual partners seems to be grasped nicely and better explained than I did. The central… Read more »

Lana
Lana
1 year ago
Reply to  Lophatt

“I am not saying that “Climate Change” (in the sense we normally discuss it) is “proven”. Quite the opposite.”

I don’t think anyone who knows your posts here could possibly have mistaken what you meant!

Lophatt
Lophatt
1 year ago
Reply to  Lana

I was addressing what William said. The “connection”, if you will, is that whether its reproduction, genetics, or simply the body human, or other natural things, i.e. “climate change”, we don’t know as much as we like to pretend. William said: I beg to differ, respectfully of course. We know more than enough, with absolute certainty, to conclude that the only warming in the recent (100 year) historical record, apart from the natural significant warming of the 1930’s-40’s (much warmer then than now), is due to statistical manipulation by NOAA/NASA.”. I was simply saying that I didn’t think even that… Read more »

Lana
Lana
1 year ago
Reply to  Lophatt

Sorry I missed the subtlety you were trying to get across. Glad it’s all good. Funny I can see both points of view….. I can see enough science ( or lack thereof ) to know that Climate Change ( at least as they present it ) is BS, and yet I get what you are saying….there is so much that we truly don’t know, and therefore it is good that have some humility before a lot of these subjects. Kind of reminds me of the Indians calling God the Great Mystery- they really had the humility to know there are… Read more »

Lophatt
Lophatt
1 year ago
Reply to  Lana

And lawn bowling……….., I was saying the other day………..

stevenbroiles
1 year ago

There is still a lot we do not know about genetics. When the media announced some years back that “scientists” or “researchers” had completed “mapping” the human genome, I said to myself, “Yeah, right.” This was because I know that in genetics, God Almighty has had Nature write in the smallest possible “code” or “language” other than the molecular level. But as FOTM has previously reported, every woman who gets pregnant with a male child (at the least—I haven’t read about every woman who has a female child yet) will bear some of that male child’s DNA in her bloodstream… Read more »

stevenbroiles
1 year ago
Reply to  Dr. Eowyn

Thank You for all you do, Dr. Eowyn. QUICK UPDATE: Dr. Henry Makow was kicked off Twitter for a week. Can you possibly get in touch with him for moral support? ALSO: Can you put FOTM on Twitter, as it was kicked off Facebook? Just suggestions. Thank You for posting this again, and I also have to look up the FOTM post that scientifically explains the genetic possibility for Our Lord’s conception. This field of genetics is very tricky for me as there is so much to learn, and it’s easy for me to misunderstand this. But we do know… Read more »

Horse Hockey
Horse Hockey
1 year ago

BS.

D3F1ANT
D3F1ANT
1 year ago

LOL! This study needs a little more work.

Lophatt
Lophatt
1 year ago
Reply to  Dr. Eowyn

“?”

sixlittlerabbits
sixlittlerabbits
1 year ago
Reply to  Dr. Eowyn

Replication in human subjects.

TrailDust
Admin
1 year ago

Dr. Eowyn, as I read this piece I was thoroughly expecting a hilarious punch line or photoshopped picture at the end. I thought you were setting us up for an April Fools kind of thing. Instead, you give us something to think about. Thanks.

sixlittlerabbits
sixlittlerabbits
1 year ago

This is the first time I’ve encountered a misleading title at FOTM. The research cited was done on FRUIT FLIES, NOT HUMANS. Shame, shame.

Lophatt
Lophatt
1 year ago

There is NOTHING misleading here. It’s a lot harder to get humans to let you glue their junk for testing purposes.