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I am wondering if animals do evolve even after birth and gain DNA changes that give them advantages and make them more suitable to the environment while they are alive, then pass these "enhancements" to their children

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After all, cell do split and multiply when the animal is alive, and it could end up with a totally different cells than the one born with, so if a mutation happened during this period that led for it to be the dominant "property", what stops it from being passed on? Is there a research on this?

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closed as off-topic by David, De Novo, Bryan Krause, kmm, WYSIWYG Mar 6 at 7:57

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    $\begingroup$ I would encourage you to look at this question, and maybe clarify in your question what you understand evolution to mean. I would note that typically, in the general sense, evolution is understood refer to changes in a population of organisms, but in some domains it can refer to changes in a cell population. This circumstance, though, doesn't involve passing on to the offspring of the organism, but the offspring of the cell. $\endgroup$ – De Novo Mar 4 at 15:47
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No. Certainly not. There is only a very limited number of cells in the body of any creature which pass on genetic material to the offspring generation; these are referred to as gametes. Mutations to these cells, however, do not affect the parent in the least, as their sole function is to produce offspring.

One gamete from the father & one gamete from the mother fuse to produce a child with a combination of genetic code, which means that mutations in those gametes (which did not affect the parent) will be present in every cell of the child's body, and affect the child.

Furthermore, do remember that most mutations are not "enhancements"; rather the vast majority of mutations are harmful.

After birth (and really, long before birth) mutations acquired in the organism are unable to be passed on to the offspring, unless they happen in the gametes, in which case they do not affect the parent carrying those mutations.

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  • $\begingroup$ But doesn't gametes have the DNA of the animal? $\endgroup$ – Mocas Mar 4 at 15:19
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    $\begingroup$ Yes. But the gametes rarely (if ever) express the portions of that DNA which will effect the rest of the animal. $\endgroup$ – rotaredom Mar 4 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ Each cell in the body of an animal has a copy of the entire genome (all the DNA). Some parts of that DNA only affect the cell it's in, whereas other parts of that DNA code for molecules which could effect the entire body. Because of the function of gametes, they are specialized to express only parts of the DNA which allow them to grow and perform their function, which is to reproduce. Consequently, they are kind of resident aliens with little / no effect on the parent until fertilization, when you have two distinct animals (distinct genetic code), one residing and depending on the other. $\endgroup$ – rotaredom Mar 4 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ Correct. There's a process known as differentiation which sets in stone early on in the development process what kind of cell a cell will be, which in turn defines what its function will be. In your simplified example (obviously it's more complicated than just "gaining information for longer legs"), the bone cell will be utterly incapable of passing that genetic material on to the gametes, so although the parent has longer bones, the offspring will have normal length bones. $\endgroup$ – rotaredom Mar 4 at 15:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Mocas FYI, a cell mutating and migrating its mutated form to other tissue is basically a cancer that has metastasized (though it would not be infecting other cells with its mutations; only invading their tissue). $\endgroup$ – Harris Mar 4 at 18:20

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