What Is Inherited Variation?

In the field of biology, inherited variation refers to genes and genetic information transferring from both parents to offspring. Biological variation occurs in all species, including humans, plants and other animals. Offspring of all living species derives approximately 50 percent of each parent’s genes, giving them resemblance to the parents while displaying novel traits, features and characteristics as well, as noted in a report by the BBC.

Many types of traits and features pass along through generations. These characteristics include hair color, eye color and the shape of facial features, like noses and ears. Inherited variation occurs when egg cells divide. Each egg and sperm cell contains approximately half the genetic information necessary for producing individuals. Upon fertilization of the egg, individuals acquire certain traits from parents, and have unique traits and looks.

Inherited variation produces differences in human eye color, such as blue, green and brown. It also creates a difference in skin color in the human population, and determines whether people have ears with lobes or without lobes.

In addition to inherited variation, some differences among people derive from environmental origins. Environmental causes of variation account for differences in cultural norms, behavior and lifestyle. Most people contain a combination of inherited and cultural traits. These traits explain differences in behavior, weight and other variables in very similar individuals, such as twins.