Dennis, Disease, and Abilities

Note: this was originally posted on my blog on tumblr.com. I have tried to convert some of the formatting over, however there may be some inconsistencies. Also this particular entry was written before I knew how to cite scientific sources, so sources will either be nonexistent or incorrectly cited. 

This meta is going to look at how the genetics of abilities in Heroes/Heroes Reborn can go totally wrong, and how a little boy named Dennis is evidence of that.

It was pointed out in this meta that Luke’s son, Dennis, likely has some sort of skin condition, since he is always covered pretty much head to toe by clothing. Given that Luke has an ability I have thoughts on this. Read them below the cut. Beware, science.

So Dennis obviously have some type of sun allergy. Skin allergies can be caused by: racial factors (white and native american people are at greater risk), medications the person is taking, things like perfume, and having a parent with a related skin condition/genetics. A sun allergy takes the form of redness, itching, pain, hives, and in general a pretty terrible time. You would rather be baking in the Texas heat in long sleeves in june than covered in hives, or at least I would.

That being said I’m going to vote that it is either caused by race or by genetics, since he is probably too young to be on the types of medication that cause extreme skin sensitivity. I find race a little less likely, even though Luke is white and that is considered a high risk group, Dennis has more melanin in his skin, making it a darker color (basically he’s darker than a pasty white kid who would roast in Texas trust me I am that pasty white kid).

So that leaves genetics. This is interesting, given that it looks like Luke’s ability has something to do with absorbing energy through his skin, and we know that he can absorb energy from the sun. Since it doesn’t look like Joanne has any skin/light sensitivity issues, and she even asks Luke if the sun is getting to him, it seems more likely that an issue with sun exposure runs in Luke’s family.

This is where things get interesting. Given that Luke’s ability involves the sun, it seems like he passed the genes for his ability on to his son. However, probably when his DNA was being combined with Joanne’s DNA to make a tiny person something went wrong. Probably something called recombination occurred. A piece of Joanne’s DNA crossed chromosomes over to Luke’s DNA and that tiny little chunk mixed together. This normally isn’t a bad thing. In fact it’s the main thing that drives evolution and it’s great because it creates change in a population!

In this case though it kinda sucks. This crossing over event must have happened in the middle of one of the genes that passed on the ability. This caused all of the genes to be passed on but not all of them functioned correctly, which instead of giving Dennis an ability gave him a pretty terrible genetic disease.

This is interesting because an ability stopped being an ability and went back to being human diseases which might suggest that a lot of diseases in the Heroes universe are actually abilities that were mutated and stopped working properly at some point. That would explain why specials have always been a small group of the population, there is probably a high mutation rate and the product of that mutation rate is some pretty bad diseases. So multiple generations with abilities and no bad side effects are probably fairly rare. This also supports that fact that specials are not a different species, but just a genetic subset of the population, since abilities can be mutated back into normal genes which makes specials very firmly human. This is interesting because an ability stopped being an ability and went back to being human diseases which might suggest that a lot of diseases in the Heroes universe are actually abilities that were mutated and stopped working properly at some point. That would explain why specials have always been a small group of the population, there is probably a high mutation rate and the product of that mutation rate is some pretty bad diseases. So multiple generations with abilities and no bad side effects are probably fairly rare. This also supports that fact that specials are not a different species, but just a genetic subset of the population, since abilities can be mutated back into normal genes which makes specials very firmly human.

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