acquired characteristics

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acquired characteristics,

modifications produced in an individual plant or animal as a result of mutilation, disease, use and disuse, or any distinctly environmental influence. Some examples are docking of tails, malformation caused by disease, and muscle atrophy. The belief in the inheritability of acquired characteristics, proposed by the French biologist Jean-Baptiste LamarckLamarck, Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, chevalier de
, 1744–1829, French naturalist. He is noted for his study and classification of invertebrates and for his introduction of evolutionary theories.
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 in 1809, was widely accepted at one time, but is now rejected. Geneticists have affirmed that inheritance is determined solely by the reproductive cells and is unaffected by somatic (body) cells.
References in periodicals archive ?
If the inheritance of acquired characters is considered by most biologists to be a relatively rare exception to the general rule that acquired characters are not heritable, what can be learned by devoting class time to such "exceptions"?
French naturalist Jean Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) revolutionized the study of lower invertebrates, but he is best known today for popularizing the ancient theory (Plato discussed it) of the inheritance of acquired characters in his 1809 book Zoological Philosophy.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, concepts associated with Lamarck, such as habit, use, and the inheritance of acquired characters, were so pervasive that they even appeared in the writing of those who, like Edith Wharton, were "under the influence of the generally anti-Lamarckian orientation of European physical anthropology.