Wednesday, 11 May 2011


On Monday, Deb at Science@home wrote about genetics in her post, The family inheritance.

While I am most definitely not scientifically minded, certain science topics intrigue me. Genetics is on top of the list. It defines how I fit into this group of people that is my family.

I think it's fascinating that it's our parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, even great-great-great-grandparents, that influence how we look and behave. I love looking through old photo albums and seeing family resemblances with long-ago relatives and hearing stories about having something in common with a relative I may not have even met. I can remember an outing with my aunty when I was younger, where the shop-keeper thought I was her daughter. I remember feeling thrilled that I had so much in common with another family member.

My favourite aspect of genetics is the recessive gene. It's like the 'surprise' gene, with a certain trait being able to pop up unexpectedly, reminding older generations of certain great-aunts or second-cousins-once-removed.

As a great example of recessive genes popping up unexpectedly, I only have to look at my three children. My husband and I both have brown eyes and dark brown hair. Our eldest boy has light brown hair, the thickest eyelashes you'll ever see...and stunning blue eyes. In everything else, he is the spitting image of my husband. Our daughter has blonde hair and eyes that are a gorgeous green-blue. In looks, she reminds me strongly of my paternal grandmother. She cannot roll her tongue (finally a family member to keep my mum company with that particular gene!). She has my sister's shocking memory. Our baby boy has a distinct tinge of red in his hair and big, bright blue eyes. At this stage, we're still searching for a family member he resembles. He seems to be very much his own person.

Our three blue-eyed children almost blow the mind of one of our friends. He likes to quote percentages and the chances of having a blue-eyed child from two brown-eyed parents. Apparently we should have stopped at one and had the other two with brown eyes. I guess our genes didn't get the memo.

While the above example is a bit of fun, there was an incident with a woman in a supermarket car park when our eldest boy was still a baby. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that it was impossible for two brown-eyed parents to have a blue-eyed child. I was flabbergasted. This woman was someone both my husband and I knew. I stammered something in reply - and it still annoys me, nearly 7 years later, that I didn't think up a better reply.

Now I know. The blue eyes are a recessive gene. Aunts and uncles on both my side and my husband's side of the family have blue eyes. And they suit our children perfectly.


  1. Kate, you should never question the wisdom of a person in a supermarket carpark! They know everything. Simply being in the carpark seems to give you a degree in whatever field it is that you happen to be discussing.

  2. 'The genes didn't get the memo' - love it!

    Genetics is fascinating isn't it. Little things blow me away - like recently Abbey started doing little scribbles, EXACTLY the same as I used to do (in my books - remember that?!). For something like that to be carried through the gene pool is amazing.

    And C has my memory?! hehehehehehe! That's Dad's memory too - I remember telling him once that I used to think he couldn't remember movies due to 'old age', until I realised I was the same. Seems that's just a crappy gene!

  3. I just typed a big reply about dominant/recessive genes but ended up sounding like a nutcase lol! Suffice to say, I think that woman has a high school understanding of genetics ;) I love it when all these unusual things pop up too. My SIL has red hair and brown haired parents. Apparently the red hair is way back in the line. I'm waiting for it to pop up in one of our kids - that'd be cool :)

  4. Nicole, I can only assume that was the train of thought from that woman :-)

    Megan, I can't believe Abbey does the exact same squiggles! That is so cool!

  5. Two blue eyed people cannot have a brown eyed baby!!!
    That's the truth!!!
    People in carparks are like randoms online... you never ever know....


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