Scientists Say There’s A Chance Your Baby Could Look Like Your Ex

How’s this for a scare: scientists at the University of New South Wales have found that there may just be a possibility of a baby inheriting traits of the mother’s previous sexual partner.

The concept of ‘telegony’ was written off as ridiculous nonsense years and years and years ago, but now researchers have realised that it might not be as daft as it sounds after all. According to the Telegraph, the size of a studied group of newborns was determined by the mother’s first sexual partner, rather than he who was actually the biological partner.

Oh, but the only catch? It was fruit flies that were studied, not humans. Still, it could apply to us as well: the researchers reckon that it’s all down to the fact that molecules in the first partner’s semen were perhaps absorbed by the female’s immature eggs.

“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,” said lead author Dr Angela Crean. “But we don’t know yet whether this applies to other species.”

Here in the UK, Dr Stuart Wigby of Oxford University responded: “The principle of telegony is theoretically possible for pretty much any internally fertilising animal, but there hasn’t historically been much evidence for it.

“I’m aware of Crean et al’s work, and it seems to be a neat demonstration of the phenomenon in insects. The mechanism they propose – molecules in the seminal fluid of the first mate being absorbed by the female’s immature eggs – is indeed a possibility, and it would be revealing to test this.”

But in what will perhaps be a bit of relief for worried mothers-to-be, he added: “This particular mechanism would be unlikely to apply to mammals such as humans because of differences in reproductive physiology compared to insects. However, other researchers have suggest that mechanisms exist that could in principle result in telegony in humans; for example because mothers carry fetal DNA in their blood during pregnancy.”