HEREDITY/CANNIBALISM

Andrew Fell ahfell at netmatters.co.uk
Sun Aug 17 14:14:11 EST 1997


Les Smith wrote:
> 
> To get to the point, I'm wondering about the transference of a learned
> response to a stimuli from one worm to another, when the first worm is
> ingested by the second. As I remember it, the subjects were flat worms.
> The first group of worms were taught something like (I think!) negotiat-
> ing a simple maze, something like a "Skinner-Box" for worms! The first
> group of worms were then ground up and fed to the second group of worms
> who were then--supposedly--able to negotiate the maze on the first try,
> without having ever seen it before. Thereby proving--once again, sup-
> posedly--that the learned, or acquired response of the first group of
> worms had been transferred to the second group by ingestion.
> 
> Biology, for me, was a long time ago. I'm somewhat hazy about the facts.
> The basic idea, however, was the transference of a learned, or acquired
> response to a stimuli by ingestion, AMONG VERY BASIC LIFE FORMS. Any and
> all information you could supply me with on this topic, whether it in-
> volves flat-worms or whatever, would be GREATLY APPRECIATED.
> 
I don't have any references to hand but I think this was at one point a
hugely exciting area of research that turned out to be utterly wrong,
like cold fusion and phrenology. Basically the experiments were not done
particularly well.
Try a history of science text book: there is a book called "The Drunken
Goldfish" which discusses it. Sorry I can't be much help.
Andy Fell



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