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So, got me this magical forest. It affects lots of things biologically, ok, magically.

I am looking at the life span and magical ability kind of like an adaptation needed by living in the forest, which fades over generations or strengthens, depending on your stay in the forest and how old you are. Is there a bio equivalent for traits which appear and disappear like those below? Does this seem reasonable? And is there anything I am missing that should effect it? (Like perhaps food imported from the forest can help keep you from aging normally).

Any creature that stays there over several generations, will change in some way. Adaptations will happen, and quickly.

For the humans that discovered it, this meant an extended life-span, an ability to wield magic, and a look you might call elven. Those who leave have a shorter lifespan.

So an average of 600 years, all told, for a 5th generation human (that is the 5th generation to be born there) who stays in the magic forest.

If your parents are from the forest and most of your life is spent outside the magic forest, or you were born outside of it and grew up outside, the life span is more like 300-400. By the third generation outside life span dips to 200, and these humans look less elven. More...half elven. It continues to dip until about the 6th gen outside, when you're back to normal human levels.

Magic talent also dwindles along with the life span, generally.

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  • $\begingroup$ Magic can work however you like. I mean, personally I'd prefer if there was a more, "explained", explanation for how these magical attributes are passed from parents to childen when, presumably this forest doesn't affect heritable genetics. However, it is magic after all so who am I to argue? $\endgroup$ – AngelPray Jan 19 '17 at 3:54
  • $\begingroup$ The one thing I'd like to know if this was my world is what happens when someone tries to destroy the forest. The rest is plausible but it's also fiction so there's no right answer. $\endgroup$ – Garto Jan 19 '17 at 11:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Garto That would be quite a task, but if it did happen, their traits would not disappear as a result. It would be the same as if they lived outside the forest and would disappear in 6 or 7 generations. Past exposure influences them (sorta like magical benign radiation) but they aren't magically connected to the forest, at least not automatically. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Jan 19 '17 at 17:36
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There is indeed a biological phenomenon where adaptations or characters acquired during the life of the parents are transmitted to the offspring; it is called transgenerational epigenetic inheritance (see also this summary with nice pictures at the University of Utah). Because acquired characters cannot affect the genome (due to the central dogma of molecular biology), the characters transmitted through epigenetic inheritance naturally fade in successive generations if the conditions which produced them are no longer present.

The mechanisms of epigenetic inheritance are under active study; the basic idea seems to be that some small parts of the tuning of the genome can survive the bulk deprogramming which normally happens when an egg is fertilized.

For a more in-depth discussion see "Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance: Myths and Mechanisms" by Edith Heard and Robert A. Martienssen, Cell, Volume 157, Issue 1, p95–109, 27 March 2014.

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