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Abstract

All organisms inherit parents' genes, but many also inherit parents, peers, and the places they inhabit as well. We suggest the term ontogenetic niche to signify the ecological and social legacies that accompany genes. A formal name is needed to give the idea of the inherited environment equal status with its conceptual cognates; nature and nurture. We argue here that increased recognition of the inherited environment facilitates unification efforts within the development sciences by emphasizing the affinity, rather than opposability, of ontogenetic processes.