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Don't worry, men: Evolution shows you're still needed
The Philadelphia Inquirer ^ | October 2, 2006 | Faye Flam

Posted on 10/02/2006 6:31:09 AM PDT by DaveLoneRanger

Science may have found an answer to that question made famous by Maureen Dowd: Are men necessary? If other creatures are anything to go by, men are essential to keeping our species healthy, and would still be necessary even if women started making their own sperm.

That's more or less what happened to the male clam shrimp, a puddle and pond dweller that thrives in all continents except Antarctica. One day millions of years ago a mutant female started producing both sperm and eggs; that mutation spread until all the females were replaced by hermaphrodites. You'd think that would spell doom for the males.

Hermaphrodites also dominate one of our fellow vertebrates, a swamp dweller called a killifish. And yet male killifish crop up here and there.

Are these males getting any sex or in any way contributing to the gene pool? Are they necessary?

An even more serious question is why all animals don't become hermaphrodites, with its obvious perk of increased sexual opportunity. If you want to colonize new ponds or tide pools, say, it's advantageous to be able to mate with anyone of your species, including, in a pinch, yourself.

It works well for some corals, barnacles, shellfish, worms and many plants. But there are drawbacks.

"In some ways it is a matter of 'jack of all trades is a master of none,' " says Stephen Weeks, an evolutionary ecologist from the University of Akron, Ohio. The hermaphroditic shrimp he studies, for example, can't mate with each other. Only the males come equipped with a clawlike clasper for positioning the hermaphrodite so its eggs meet his sperm at the right time.

Without the males, the shrimp are stuck mating with themselves, says Weeks, and that's a problem. "That's often associated with something called inbreeding depression which is, basically... have you seen Deliverance?"

(In the classic '70s film, it's implied that inbreeding led to defects suffered by a mute banjo-playing savant.)

You can't get more incestuous than sex with yourself. Unlike asexual reproduction, which also occurs in nature and creates genetically identical clones, sex with yourself can double up copies of deleterious genes.

Say you're a hermaphrodite and you carry a gene for banjo savant syndrome, or BSS. You need two copies of the mutant BSS gene to have the disease and your cells carry just one, plus a normal copy.

But you divide your genes in half to make sperm, so half your sperm get a bad copy of the BSS genes. The same thing happens in your eggs. That means one of every four of your offspring will get two bad BSS genes and come out banjo savants. And if they're fertile, all their offspring will be banjo savants.

Preventing this kind of thing is the job of the male clam shrimp, and apparently has been for some time. All of the more than 30 known species of this creature mix hermaphrodites and males, suggesting they inherited this sexual strategy from a common ancestor before they diverged. And the fossil record indicates that was more than 24 million years ago.

Genetic diversity also keeps the male killifish in business despite the challenge of having to mate with hermaphrodites - and mean ones at that. When you put killifish together in a tank, the hermaphrodites tend to eat the males, says biologist John Elder of Valdosta State University in Georgia.

But in the wild, some obviously mate and escape, at least in Belize, where DNA tests show that males inject much-needed genetic diversity into the pool. For years, the scientists weren't finding males among Florida's killifish, but genetic tests conducted in the last few months reveal the Floridian fish are too genetically diverse to be having sex just with themselves.

The hermaphrodite fish might be mating with one another, Elder said, but as a general rule when they meet they "go after each other like piranhas." It might be that males not yet spotted are mixing up the genes.

In which case those male killifish, like male humans, are indeed necessary.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: christianmythology; crevo; crevolist; evolution; menareneeded; menrule; myth; myths; superstition
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1 posted on 10/02/2006 6:31:10 AM PDT by DaveLoneRanger
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To: gobucks; mikeus_maximus; MeanWestTexan; JudyB1938; isaiah55version11_0; Elsie; LiteKeeper; ...

What a relief. Evolution has saved man. For now.


2 posted on 10/02/2006 6:31:51 AM PDT by DaveLoneRanger (Lord, help me to be the Christian conservative that liberals fear I am.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Great news! Because I just cannot get the lid off of this jar. ;-)
3 posted on 10/02/2006 6:33:30 AM PDT by Allegra (Serve Fresh Spinach at the Next DNC Gathering)
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: DaveLoneRanger

Interesting that Maureen Dowd would write such a column. She's obsessed with men and with gender and sexuality.

She'd have nothing to do or talk about if men did not exist.


5 posted on 10/02/2006 6:34:50 AM PDT by Brilliant
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To: Brilliant

MoDo probably doesn't need men. I've heard she reproduces by splitting in amoeba-like fashion from time to time .


6 posted on 10/02/2006 6:42:20 AM PDT by lesser_satan (EKTHELTHIOR!!!)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

I've always appreciated having you guys around!I knew I was right, I knew I was right!


7 posted on 10/02/2006 6:45:40 AM PDT by sunvalley
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To: DaveLoneRanger

8 posted on 10/02/2006 6:47:34 AM PDT by frogjerk (REUTERS: We give smoke and mirrors a bad name)
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To: Brilliant
She'd have nothing to do or talk about if men did not exist.

Have you ever heard her talk? She sounds like the Ernestine character Lily Tomlin used to do. VERY nasal.

9 posted on 10/02/2006 6:50:06 AM PDT by Allegra (Serve Fresh Spinach at the Next DNC Gathering)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Who's concerned? Healthy women love men, and they are in the VAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAST majority.

Who gives a hoot what the other women think???

10 posted on 10/02/2006 6:51:39 AM PDT by Savage Beast ( 9/11 was never repeated thanks to President George W. Bush.)
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To: lesser_satan
Do you mean to tell me that Maureen Dowd has reproduced???
11 posted on 10/02/2006 6:52:56 AM PDT by Savage Beast ( 9/11 was never repeated thanks to President George W. Bush.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Science may have found an answer to that question made famous by Maureen Dowd: Are men necessary?

They just want to put us in the kitchen barefoot baking cookies.

12 posted on 10/02/2006 6:53:56 AM PDT by Reaganwuzthebest
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Isn't it nice to feel needed?


13 posted on 10/02/2006 6:55:34 AM PDT by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
The "Are Men Necessary" question is just how femizonian man-haters mentally masturbate.  

The question could just as easily be "Are Women Necessary", to be answered with "What if evolution created a man who started producing his own eggs?"

That actually makes more sense:  being that men are generally the stronger sex, it would more readily assure the survival of the species.

Bah.

It's an astonish stupid question, only seriously and half-seriously posed by super-geek science types, and feminists who wish they'd been born as men.

14 posted on 10/02/2006 6:58:30 AM PDT by Psycho_Bunny
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Only the males come equipped with a clawlike clasper for positioning the hermaphrodite so its eggs meet his sperm at the right time.

The scientific term for the clawlike clasper is the 'slickwilicus puticeonit'.

15 posted on 10/02/2006 7:12:51 AM PDT by COBOL2Java (Freedom isn't free, but the men and women of the military will pay most of your share)
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To: Savage Beast
Healthy women love men, and they are in the VAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAST majority.

Dang right we are.

Life wouldn't be worth living without men around.

Maureen Dowd is a bitter woman. She evokes pity and contempt.

16 posted on 10/02/2006 7:24:32 AM PDT by Allegra (Serve Fresh Spinach at the Next DNC Gathering)
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To: All
The real question is, are women like Moron Dowd necessary? She is breathing up the air that could be used by real women.

I am so sick of how men have been portrayed by society. On TV they are either gay, metro or a bumbling idiot Homer Simpsons. In advertising they seem to have to look to women for assistance in the smallest of household tasks. If it involves something other than their choice of beer or sports team then men are driveling idiots. Then women write songs asking where all the real men went....

I have no need for a woman who wants to be my equal. You are not my equal and you never will be. I will always be stronger than you. I will always be able to physically out play you and out kill you. Yes there will be freakish anomalies but that is the exception and not the rule. I have no tolerance for a woman who wants to take over my societal role. You are not a man. You are not and will not be one of the boys. You have nothing below the belt that has to be adjusted from time to time. You do not belong in my locker room, you do not belong on the drivers side of my car, you do not belong in my yard cutting my grass or under my car changing the oil. I don't care if I sound chauvinistic. If you don't like it I probably wont like you. If you insist that you can go in to a mens locker room an keep your eyes above a naked athletic man's waist and this be true....I have no need for you. If you cannot stomach turn about on that, a man going in to a women's locker room....preferably the Swedish womens ski team, then STFU when asking for equality when it is superiority you truly desire. You want to drive then go by yourself......I want a woman who wants to be taken somewhere. If you want to surprise me, great, drive....but lets not make it a habit. If you want to cut grass, start a lawn service. I work on my yard because I don't want to see you working so hard, you can bring me tea and look at me sweating in the hot sun....later we do a little role playing like I am Chico the lawn boy and you are the lonely housewife who brings him in and has her way with him....you get the picture?

Give me a woman who will be my partner, my helper....a woman who loves being a woman and loves a man who acts like a man. Give me a woman who enjoys being put on a pedestal, who enjoys flowers, who gives herself fully and passionately. Give me a woman who finds pleasure in being taken care of in every way possible.

The thing I find funniest is that women spend so much time and effort making their man in to Alan Alda or Woody Allen and then lament the fact that they are not Mel Gibson or Tom Cruise.

My firm belief is that a man's biggest mistake is listening to a woman who is too uncomfortable socially to admit who she is or too confused about her own wants and needs know what what she really wants. She wants what society tells her she should want and when she gets it, she ends up unhappy and unfulfilled.

Just give me a woman who is confident and unashamed about who and what she is. The rest of them can be bitter and jealous towards the women who embrace their femininity. You don't want to door held for you? Fine...just make sure it is shut all the way as you exit....I have nothing for you...

Men are still needed....real men who will take care of their woman and kids. Real men who open doors, pay for dinner, clean toilets, do laundry and not make the whites pink, change oil, cook on an open flame and a stove top equally well, who take care of themselves physically, and who are true to their commitments. When you break a man down and lower him to a bumbling dolt who is fat, lazy and rude then perhaps women will be correct in saying that those men are not needed....of course those "men" are not men at all.
17 posted on 10/02/2006 8:05:36 AM PDT by texan75010
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To: DaveLoneRanger
What a relief...Not! As long as I get laid and paid I feel needed.
18 posted on 10/02/2006 8:18:25 AM PDT by .cnI redruM (Robert Heinlein's 5 grades of coffee: Java, Cafe, Jamocha, Joe, Carbon Remover)
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To: Psycho_Bunny

Man, I am smacking myself for not thinking of the reverse equation. ("Smack yourself harder!" urge frevolutionists.) How well would an article entitled "Are women really necessary" go over?

That's one reason I love FR. Always helping me to see things in a new light. Thanks.


19 posted on 10/02/2006 8:38:06 AM PDT by DaveLoneRanger (Lord, help me to be the Christian conservative that liberals fear I am.)
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To: Cacique

bump


20 posted on 10/02/2006 8:38:20 AM PDT by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat ( Islamia Delenda Est ))
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