What Is Biological Inheritance?

biological-inheritance Credit: JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty Images

Biological inheritance is broadly defined as physical heredity. Heredity, or inheritance in the biological sense, refers to the physical features that offspring inherit from their parents, such as eye color, shape of nose and mouth, height and other distinguishing physical characteristics.

The features that can be passed down through generations are called heritable characteristics. These traits are transmitted from parents to their offspring and include physical characteristics that have unique genetic codes and cellular structures. In organisms that reproduce sexually, traits from both parents are combined and passed along to unborn babies: these traits contain unique attributes of the mother and father, but also contain some novel components, which explains why children share many commonalities with their parents but also have some cellular and physical differences too. In addition to including physical characteristics, heredity also includes the process of offspring acquiring those traits from their parents. This process is called gene expression and is essentially a complex data exchange system that takes place during the offspring's developmental stages. Some genes are dominant while others are recessive: this exchange of information is carried out through protein synthesis and the replication of DNA, which codes for nucleotides, amino acids, polypeptides and other cell structures.