, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 375-378
Date: 13 Mar 2012

Lamarck, Lamarckism, epigenetics and epigenetic inheritance

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On November 8, 1955 the members of the Genetics Institute at the University of Edinburgh held a party to celebrate the 50th birthday of their ‘chief’, C. H. Waddington, professor of genetics. The birthday cake was made in the form of a pinball machine to represent the epigenetic landscape, Waddington’s famous metaphor for embryonic development, reproduced as Fig. 11.1 (p. 114) in the book under review. The epigenetic landscape was Waddington’s metaphor for the canalization of development and for the ability of environmental factors to shift cells into a new pathway of development, the process Waddington named genetic assimilation (Hall 2008a, b). Labeling genetic assimilation as Lamarckian elicited a strong spirited response from Waddington (Waddington 1975; Hall 1992, 2008b; Hall and Laubichler 2009). Nowadays, Waddington would be regarded as swimming in the mainstream of evolutionary research, not drowning in some long-repudiated backwater of evolutionary theory. Indeed, the leading