I got guest lecture for a professor at my new institution. He teaches a senior level undergraduate course in Evolution. It was the very first very public thing that Dr. Lee did before the Zoology Department. I was nervous (I'm always nervous before I give any type of presentation). I warned the prof, also a young guy that I'd like deliver a Hip Hop Evolution lecture and gave a link to my previous blog, all about Hip Hop & Evolution -- SouthernPlayalisticEvolutionMusic - he was forewarned. Since it was the first time I had delivered my 'style' of lecture to a straight-up Evolution class, I wanted to be sure that my lecture was relevant. I decided to focus on clarifying oft-confused concepts in Evolution. After a brief discussion with him, I decided to tie into the concepts he had recently lectured: Natural Selection, Adaptation, and Population Genetics.

I kicked things off with a discussion of the phrase Survival of the Fittest and lead off with lecture notes in my Hip Hop Evolution Files: Quick & Dirty explanation of Natural Selection by Daft Punk post. Taking Karen James' critiques into consideration, I went into a full-on explanation of Lamarckian Evolution and the fallacy of conflating individual effort as contributing to adaptation.

Lamarckian selection focuses on the individual and the individual can 'shape' the traits in question. Unlike Larmarkian selection, natural selection focuses on the population and acts on variation of the traits. Which I emphasized to students are phenotypes (P). Despite the heavy attention many scientists pay to genetic inputs of traits, Genes (G) are only half of the story -- if that much. I'm on team Environmental Effects (E).

But no doubt, individuals and their efforts still matter. After all, if an individual dies before it leave offspring - for whatever reason - then it affects what is in the collective gene/phenotype pool for natural selection to work with. You understand? Which brings us to another evolutionary biology tongue-twister: Heritability and Heredity and distinguishing Heritable Traits and Inherited Traits.

From SouthernPlayalisticEvolutionMusic on the Southern Fried Science Network.


Heredity is with the likelihood or probability of traits running in families. However, it is important to keep in mind that a trait can be heritable due to genetics (G) or environment (E) – that whole nature vs. nurture argument. Environmental or nurturing effects include habits, behaviors, as well as physical/emotional/psychological experiences. Relatives often demonstrate similar habits and behavior and we share experiences with them as well.

Genetically we share half of our genes with each of our parents and a quarter of the same genes as each of our grandparents. These genes we get directly from our parents/grandparents, we inherit from them, as are the traits we have that are determined by these genes.

However, our shared habits, behaviors and experiences are not genetic, but are still heritable traits there are is a great likelihood we share these traits with our relatives. Heritability is the likelihood of getting something…in other words, you might get it. It’s not automatic – like genetic inheritance, but the chances look good. The important thing to keep in mind is that inherited traits are directly passed down from parents to children, whereas heritable traits are not necessarily genetic.

To wrap things up, I had students take a quick little quiz to see if they could distinguish between inherited traits and heritable traits. Let's see how you do. Play the first verse.

Mama Got Ass (She Get it From Her Mama) by Juvenile

Oh, where she get her eyes from? She get it from her mamma.

Inherited. Eye color is determined by simple Mendelian genetic rules. You get a gene from your mom and dad.

Oh, where she get her thighs from? She get it from her mamma.

Inherited. But also keep in mind some environmental influences like eating and exercise habits mom and daughter might have in common.

Where she learn how to cook from? She get it from her mamma.

Heritable. There are no genes for cooking or someone being a good cook, which I am sure Juvenile is rapping about. Who gives props to a bad cook?

Oh, where she get them looks from? She get it from her mamma.

This could be both. Genes for face and body structure are inherited from parents, but how a woman presents herself – such as style of dress - is often an environmental influence and most young women pattern that style after their mothers.

But where she get that ass from? She get it from her mamma.

Inherited, but see thigh reference.

But where she get her class from? She get it from her mamma.

Heritable. Offspring often ‘pick up’ behavioral tendencies from parents and other individuals in their social circle.

Oh, where she get that chest from? She get it from her mamma.

Inherited, but see thigh reference.

Where she learn how to dress from? She get it from her mamma.

Heritable, but see class reference.

Where does she get her sense from? She get it from her mamma.

Depends. If he means she may be mentally ill it could be inherited. A few mental disorders are due to genetic mishaps, but I’m guessing he means her general way of behaving in public. She has good or bad home training, therefore it is heritable.

Where does she get her income? She get it from her mamma.

Could be both. In human cultures, offspring often INHERIT wealth from parents, passed down directly from one generation to another. Of course this isn’t genetic, but the rule of ‘being passed down directly from parent to child’ means that it is inherited. However, income is also heritable, in the sense that often children follow the same occupation choices as their parents.

Look, where she get that walk from? She get it from her mamma.

Chorus (I think it speaks for it self)

A big fine woman’ll make you smile when she pass you,

Damn that girl sexy, her mamma got ass too.

A big fine woman’ll make you smile when she pass you,

Damn that girl sexy, her mamma got ass too.