So my dude noticed on /. this article entitled Acquired Characteristics May Be Inheritable. He pointed this And since I think slashdot articles are worth just about nothing, I looked at its source article. Which is entitled A Comeback for Lamarckian Evolution?.
These articles makes me head hurt. Because... Lamarck was pretty soundly spanked. And even with my limited wiki-education, I can tell the difference between epigenetics and Lamarckism.
(Edit: Evolving Thoughts has this excellent post about Lamarckism if, like me, you could use a refresher that's not wikimedia.)
So I went to look at the original paper, care of my University's subscription to the Journal of Neuroscience. It looked at a strain of mice which had been genetically engineered to have messed up long-term potentiation mechanisms (which are important for learning). It exposed some of these mice to an enriched environment for two weeks, one with toys and cardboard and tubes and such, and as expected these mice got better at long-term potentiation for about three months after exposure. What I like to call "happy mice" are better at learning, which we've known for a while.
So what's the huge Lamarckian finding in the study?
When these "happy mice" became mothers, their babies were also marginally better at long-term potentiation than they otherwise would have been, despite being raised in typical impoverished mice conditions. This finding seems fairly well-controlled, so we can be pretty sure that it's an effect that's specifically caused by the moms' exposure to an enriched environment.
Why is this finding not Lamarckian?
By the second generation, this "happy mom" effect was almost completely diminished. The improvement in long-term potentiation wasn't a truly heritable effect, but instead a very temporary one. It's not Lamarckian to say that the embryonic environment affects development. Environment.... affects.... development. It is true. However, it is still the rule that strictly phenotypic changes to an individual organism due to interaction with the environment are not the means by which diversity arises. This finding does NOTHING to change that.
This is where I'd normally start bitching about science journalism, but it turns out that the researchers themselves included the "Lamarckian" bit. A little bit of sensationalist -ahem- framing that seems to have gotten out of hand.
Dudes... no. No, no no... no. Just no. There's nothing wrong with Darwinian evolution, plus a heapin' helpin' of epigenetics. You don't have to keep beating Lamarck's dead horse.