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I know this has already been asked but I did not quite understand the science of it. Say a mutation after birth leads to a person evolving horns. Could this trait get carried along genetically or is it not possible because the mutation happened after birth? Thanks for reading:)


marked as duplicate by Mołot, Ryan_L, JBH, Vincent, Tim B II Nov 12 '18 at 0:41

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    $\begingroup$ Please don't post answers in comment. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Nov 11 '18 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ If the answers to the other question do not explain the issue satisfactorily, it is more appropriate to ask for clarification there than to post a new question, which will be closed as a duplicate. If you need a bit more rep to do that, it doesn't take much to get it. The help center describes the things you can do to build some rep quickly. $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 11 '18 at 23:50
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, sorry. I´m new here so thanks a lot for the help :) $\endgroup$ – Hugo Liedbergius Nov 13 '18 at 22:28

One of the issues with this scenario is that in real-world genetics, any given mutation acquired after the birth of an individual is only going to affect one cell, and any cells descended from it. What this means is, this kind of mutation will not result in a phenotypical change such as the spontaneous development of horns. The likely result, in fact, is cancer.

Furthermore, unless that mutation occurs in a germ-line cell, that mutation will never be passed down.

So, in a fictional setting in which 'mutation' works in different ways, i.e. an individual can acquire a new phenotypical trait after birth, it is really up to you to decide whether those mutations can be passed down.

  • $\begingroup$ It does not necessarily affect one cell. It could be induced by some sort of retrovirus, for example. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Nov 11 '18 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with Arkenstein. To be passed on, it has to be a mutation in the DNA of sperm or egg cells. Except for things like cancer, one generally does not acquire mutations after birth. Unless you mean epigenetics, which would not produce horns. $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Nov 11 '18 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP That is, by definition, not a mutation. $\endgroup$ – Arkenstein XII Nov 11 '18 at 21:31

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