FRACTAL GIRAFFE: Reminded me of Lamarck’s much reviled theory of soft inheritance, or the ability to inherit…

FRACTAL GIRAFFE: Reminded me of Lamarck’s much reviled theory of soft inheritance, or the ability to inherit characteristics acquired in one’s lifetime. The classic example was that of a giraffe stretching it’s neck to reach the top of an acacia tree, so that with every generation, the neck grew a little longer. Like our fractal giraffe 🙂

• Although Lamarck’s idea was discarded in favor of Mendelian genetics (“natural selection”), inheritance of acquired traits is now supported by the branch of epigenetics. DNA can be chemically modified (“methylation”) to alter the expression of genes, and not only is this process influenced by our environment, we can even pass it on to our offspring.

• The famous example is of human populations who experience starvation and pass altered gene function to their children. An isolated community in northern Sweden went through several famine and feast cycles in the past century. Combing through detailed records, it was found that kids who went from normal eating to gluttony in a single season produced sons and grandsons who lived an average of at least six years less. So the choices you make in your lifetime will leave a genetic imprint!

Read more:

Inspired by this cartoon from Sakis Koukouvis ( and link from Vladimir Mitrovic . Thanks, both!


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54 Responses to FRACTAL GIRAFFE: Reminded me of Lamarck’s much reviled theory of soft inheritance, or the ability to inherit…

  1. (meaning I LOVE the whole post.. not just the picture.. great info!)

  2. Rajini Rao says:

    I ♥ the fractal giraffe too. And of course, ♥ the biology 🙂 Thanks, Sonny Hoaglund !

  3. Chad Haney says:

    I would ♥ it more if it were purple and looked like ventricles :~).

  4. This is an even better band name, Jay Weixelbaum : Fractal Giraffe.

  5. Rajini Rao says:

    ⚛ Scan and pseudocolor it ⚛, Chad Haney 🙂

  6. Brian Holmes says:

    Always informative and entertaining. 🙂

  7. Chad Haney says:

    Pseudocolor? H&E are real dyes.

  8. Chad Haney says:

    Owen McNamara I think it needs more cowbell.

    Acri SNL cowbell

  9. Rajini Rao says:

    Owen McNamara , all I can say about that vid is that my 13 yr old son said, I’ve seen that one and it’s weird! 😛

    Chad Haney , pardon me, we could get a bucket load of H&E or Photoshop.

  10. Chad Haney says:

    :O what about a bucket of nissl?

  11. Rajini Rao says:

    I fancy some fluorescence. Happier with Hoechst 33342.

  12. Chad Haney says:

    Yeah, but we have to inject Hoechst before we sac them. I’m not sac’ing a Giraffe.

  13. Rajini Rao says:

    No need, its a vital stain. We could always breed in CFP for blue giraffe.

  14. Mark Taggart says:

    Okay…I like the giraffe, but I’m partial (family connection) to the (potentially) infinite complexity of the Chickenemone:

  15. Chad Haney says:

    See me ride out of the sunset

    on your purple colored TV screen

    Out for all that I can get

    If you know what I mean

    Women to the left of Dan me

    and women to the right (of Dan)

    ain’t got no gun

    ain’t got no knife

    Don’t you start no fight

    ’cause I’m


    TNT AC/DC with lyrics

    I really am going to ride walk out of the sunset. See you all in a bit. I’ll let Mahesh Sreekandath or Gnotic Pasta come up with some real metal giraffe song. Hopefully Feisal Kamil doesn’t get this R-rated before I’m done with walking the dog and dinner. I hope your son enjoys my song while I’m out.

  16. Rajini Rao says:

    Whoa, those are some chicken feet, Mark Taggart ! Artist is a relative of yours?

  17. Mark Taggart says:

    Rajini Rao Yep! My brother! Your cool giraffe photo immediately made me think of him. He’s been making those (& other works about infinite complexity) for about a decade now. He also keeps chickens in his bungalow backyard, just outside his studio, so they’re sort of his Muses. 😉

  18. Rajini Rao says:

    Awesome artwork, Mark Taggart , tell him that I’m now a fan (of his chicken husbandry too) 🙂

  19. Now I want the full giraffe, standing on the chicken feet.

  20. Rajini Rao says:

    On fractal chicken feet, if you please David Archer !

  21. Paul Melrose says:

    This is really interesting and exciting research. I think I’m going to be reading a lot on this. Thanks 🙂

  22. Rajini Rao says:

    Paul Melrose , on a (slightly) more serious note, epigenetics is becoming more and more recognized as a means of inheritance. The DNA sequence is the same, but it is modified to alter how accessible a gene is and whether it is turned on or not. There have been studies showing that a pregnant woman’s diet can influence the health of her offspring many decades later by inherited means.

  23. Rajini Rao says:

    Is there a song for everything? Gnotic Pasta ?

  24. Damn – that’s really fascinating, Rajini Rao. My vocabulary grows (again) (daily).

  25. Rajini Rao says:

    David Archer , it’s kind of nice to see that Lamarck had the idea right in a way because he was sidelined by Mendel’s success. We scientists like to root for the losers (because we often end up wrong too).

  26. David Henken says:

    If I understand the TIME article correctly, it says Bygren’s research inferred the gluttony and starvation of individuals from agricultural records. That is not very convincing evidence, even in an isolated community.

  27. Chad Haney says:

    Rajini Rao did your son explode when he heard AC/DC?

  28. Tom Lee says:

    This could scare the heck out of everybody !

  29. Rajini Rao says:

    Apparently, these were meticulous records, David Henken . I’ve been meaning to look up the original paper, but the author is prolific so I’m trying to figure out which one to read. This is a free read on a similar topic by the author:

  30. Rajini Rao says:

    Chad Haney , he is blase about what goes on at my end of the room, he does express mild surprise when I play AC/DC or one of Mahesh’s metal offerings 🙂

  31. Rajini Rao says:

    You mean scare the neck out of everybody, Tom Lee ?

  32. Chad Haney says:

    LOL, mild surprise.

  33. Tom Lee says:

    Rajini Rao either version will work. Didn’t think of the “neck” version until you mentioned it !

  34. Rajini Rao says:

    The kid is multitasking by decimating the enemy on Team Fortress 2 while conversing on wireless headphones with disembodied voices..his online experience is more exciting than G+, Chad Haney 😦

  35. Rajini Rao says:

    David Henken , here is another free read:

    The original one may be behind a paywall.

  36. Rajini Rao says:

    Do you drive or are you driven, Feisal Kamil ?

  37. Rajini Rao says:

    Literal and metaphorical question, Feisal Kamil !!

  38. Rajini Rao says:

    Fools seldom differ.

  39. Rajini Rao says:

    Gnotic Pasta and I had this conversation already, haha. One man’s feast is another man’s poison vs. sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    Opposite metaphors.

  40. Thank you Rajini Rao I love that you have linked this fractal image with the science of epigenetics. Inspiration!

  41. But giraffes have FIVE horns! 🙂

  42. Vinod Pandey says:

    Oh , out of words for this.

  43. Well Rajini Rao this image is so intriguing I am back for a second time :)) If I could think of some other way to use it I would/might steal it :))

  44. Rajini Rao says:

    Perhaps as a heads up on something you would post, Cheryl Ann MacDonald, Psy’D. ? 🙂

  45. Oh I just stole it …it is too good to not use for something. Saved and you will of course be credited when I can think of something for a later date! :)) Rajini Rao thanks

  46. Rajini Rao says:

    Any time, Cheryl Ann MacDonald, Psy’D. , feel free to re-use and share, it’s all for the good 🙂

  47. When math meet biology, it is always some very pretty sparks!!

  48. không biết gì cả

  49. Rajini Rao – If you like fractals, take a look at some of mine.  I recently posted 2, but have older posts as well.

  50. Rajini Rao says:

    Love fractals! Who doesn’t? 😛

    Let me check, thanks.

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