Why we look the way we do

If you've ever wondered why you look the way you do or confused about why people behave in a certain manner, worry no more! Our series article on Genetics, cut your worry by half and clear any doubts

Sylvester Torsman
Sylvester Torsman

Introduction to Genetics‌‌

If you've ever wondered why you look the way you do or confused about why people behave in a certain manner, worry no more! ‌‌Our series article on Genetics, will cut your worry by half and clear any doubts you may have gathered from day one since you were born into this world in an easy, fun and digestible manner.‌‌ Come to think of it...‌‌

What's Genetics?

‌‌Genetics, they say,  is the study of living things and how they receive common traits or behavior from their parents or previous generations. This is sometimes referred to as Heredity.‌‌ Technically, heredity is a biological process whereby a parent passes certain genes onto their children or offspring.‌‌ This explains why it's easy to spot two dark couple whose children are very fair or light-skinned. Or why some children tend to be very hairy whereas their parents have bare chests or feets.‌‌ Going forward with the story, children inherit genes from both biological parents and these genes, in turn, express specific traits. Some of these traits may be physical for example; hair and eye color, or can carry disease and disorders such as albinism or sickle cell.‌‌ By now, you may have been wondering, "What's a Gene?" Before this question gets answered, take time to sip some cold juice 'cos we're delving right into it by the close of a second.‌‌

The details...

‌‌A gene is a hereditary unit which consists of DNA(Deoxyribonucleic Acid) that occupies a spot on a chromosome and determines a characteristic in an organism. Genes are transferred from parent to child and are believed by many to be responsible a great deal for the looks and behavior of children. Children inherit pairs of genes from their parents.

‌‌A child gets one set of genes from the father and one set from the mother. These genes can match up in many ways to make different combinations. This is why many family members look a lot alike and others don’t look like each other at all. ‌‌So over to the next interesting topic...

Genetic Probability or Chance

‌‌Genetic heredity is inherently probabilistic – sexual reproduction ensures that even when we know everything about the parents’ genomes, we don’t know what combination of their genes will end up in each of their offspring.‌‌ This means that a no matter what, children will receive genes from their parents but as to which part they receive is left to chance. A child may inherit behavioral genes and not necessarily the physical. It could be the other way round and even children could be  perfect replica of their parents.‌‌ So it can be fun to wonder if a new baby will look more like their mum or dad, but when a genetic condition runs in the family, the results could be rather troubling. However, we can predict the possible outcomes based on chance.‌‌ So how are characteristics inherited...‌‌

Characteristics, such as eye color and blood type, are passed on by parents to their children through their genes. Some health conditions and diseases can be passed on genetically too. ‌‌Sometimes, a characteristic may have many different forms. For example, blood type can be A, B, AB or O. Variations in the gene for that particular characteristic cause these different forms. Each gene variation is called an allele which is pronounced as  ‘AL-eel’. These two copies of the gene contained in your chromosomes influence the way your cells work.‌‌ The two alleles in a gene pair are inherited, one from each parent. Alleles interact with each other in different ways. These are called inheritance patterns. ‌‌Inheritance patterns will be treated in a later post. There you will get to understand why people look the way they do and why some sicknesses are rampant in some families and the direct opposite in others.‌‌

A little background on Genetics to end the day...

‌‌Genetics arose out of the identification of genes, the fundamental units responsible for heredity. Genetics may be defined as the study of genes at all levels, including the ways in which they act in the cell and the ways in which they are transmitted from parents to offspring. Genetics stemmed from Gregor Mendel, in the 19th century where he suspected that traits were inherited as discrete units, and, although he knew nothing of the physical or chemical nature of genes at the time, his units became the basis for the development of the present understanding of heredity. Using Gregor's theories, other scientists like William Bateson, Jean Baptiste Lamarck, Charles Darwin, James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, amongst many others, came up with more concrete information on genetics.