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Sex: do we really need it?
Australian Broadcasting Corporation Science ^ | Tuesday, 8 July 2003 | Wilson da Silva in Melbourne

Posted on 07/30/2003 8:56:08 AM PDT by I_dmc

Sex: do we really need it?

ABC Science Online

 

 

Birds do it, bees do it, humans do it - but nobody knows why sex evolved at all, the world congress of genetics heard in Melbourne today.

"The evolution of sex has presented a paradox to evolutionary biology for over a century," said Associate Professor Sally Otto, an evolutionary biologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, to delegates attending the 19th International Congress of Genetics.

"It's known there are a lot of costs to reproducing sexually. Why make sons and males, if you could just produce females that were able to reproduce by themselves? That's a division of resources into two sexes that seems unnecessary," she said.

Not only does this seem to waste resources, the whole process is prone to failure. There's the risk of not finding a mate, and the risk of getting a disease during mating. There's also a more subtle risk: if an individual reaches reproduction age and finds a mate, it is a successful genotype - a tried and true model of a species. But then that individual mixes their genotype with a mate, with no guarantee that the mixture is going to be any better.

(Excerpt) Read more at abc.net.au ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: evolution; genetics; sex
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To: wardaddy
I cannot believe you beat me to it!!!
51 posted on 07/30/2003 10:55:20 AM PDT by sit-rep
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To: MikeWUSAF
Is it still considered sex if you are alone?

That's a good question for the Sinkmeister Slick-Willie waxing his willie in the Oral Office.

52 posted on 07/30/2003 11:45:58 AM PDT by Cobra64 (Kill the evil-doers.)
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To: I_dmc
Is this a trick question?
53 posted on 07/30/2003 11:50:00 AM PDT by najida (What handbasket? And where did you say we were going?)
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To: TRY ONE
It did not EVOLVE --- God CREATED Adam & Eve

And shortly thereafter, God created the first Creationist and named him Cane.

54 posted on 07/30/2003 12:27:39 PM PDT by Jeff Gordon
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To: sit-rep
great minds think alike!
55 posted on 07/30/2003 12:32:32 PM PDT by wardaddy (True happiness is nuts after the flop.)
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To: Billthedrill
Well, that's not what the neighbors say- the ones with the herd of sheep.
56 posted on 07/30/2003 12:34:34 PM PDT by frodolives (Moose bites can be pretti nasti)
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To: Ghengis
You may need to choose a more appropriate screen name.

"Only Until I Need Glasses" was already taken. (It really was).

57 posted on 07/30/2003 12:35:39 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: frodolives
The fleecy little tramps are liars.
58 posted on 07/30/2003 12:36:40 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Lost Highway
LOL!! I think you nailed it!
59 posted on 07/30/2003 12:43:45 PM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: r9etb
If sex evolved, how could it evolve without some means of transmissible genetic variation?

Mutations. You're going to get way more variation over time with sexual transmission of variation than you would likely get from having to rely on mutations of self-replicating organizisms. Plus, a successful mutation will spread far more rapidly where there is sex than where there is none. If there is a successful mutation of one self-replicating "female", that mutation can be passed on only to that female's offspring. But if you have a successful mutation in a male, that success can be passed on to a much larger number of females.

60 posted on 07/30/2003 1:52:23 PM PDT by XJarhead
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To: XJarhead
But if you have a successful mutation in a male, that success can be passed on to a much larger number of females.

You're pre-supposing the existence of males. But how you get males and females that can mate and produce fertile male/female offspring? Where does the mating behavior come from?

61 posted on 07/30/2003 3:16:52 PM PDT by r9etb
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To: r9etb
You're pre-supposing the existence of males. But how you get males and females that can mate and produce fertile male/female offspring? Where does the mating behavior come from?

No, I'm not. The shift from parthogenis to male/female offspring is the mutation that occured. You get a tiny sense that shifts like that are possible when you see people born as hermaphrodites. Hermaphrodites obviously can't engage in partAnd because it was such a successful mutation, it became the dominant pattern for advanced life.

The article basically makes the same point later on. Sex is the most efficient means for improving a species, so its pretty inevitable that such a mutation eventually would arise and become dominant.

62 posted on 07/30/2003 3:31:22 PM PDT by XJarhead
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To: XJarhead
Yes, mutations. That's why I posted this after reading it. I got to wondering. What effect will the changes in our culture, welfare state, etc, have on our collective genetics?
63 posted on 07/30/2003 3:50:51 PM PDT by I_dmc
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To: Billthedrill
You can live for years without sex. I am living proof.

You call that a life?

;-)

TS

64 posted on 07/30/2003 3:53:46 PM PDT by The Shrew (Radio Free Republic = The New NPR!)
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To: Mr. Jeeves
To understand the lunacy of Feminism:

The Feminist Absurdity.

William Flax

65 posted on 07/30/2003 3:55:28 PM PDT by Ohioan
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To: XJarhead
I cannot believe a person with those academic credentials could ask such a stupid question.

Neither can I, especially when the many genetic/evolutionary advantages of sexual reproduction have been well known for *decades*.

I suspect this article is yet another example of a depressingly common trend: A reporter who understands too little about a scientific story to accurately present it, but doesn't let that stop them from trying to make their report more "dramatic" by playing up humdrum ongoing research as a "mystery" or a "revolution" of some sort.

In this article, it's the "mystery" of how "no one knows" why sex exists but the adventurous scientists are hot on the trail like Sherlock Holmes...

66 posted on 07/30/2003 4:05:15 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Ichneumon
What's this "we" sh*t? I need it!
67 posted on 07/30/2003 4:07:21 PM PDT by manic4organic (An organic conservative)
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To: r9etb
If that's the case, then how did sex evolve in the first place? That's the paradox, see?

No paradox, actually.

Sexual reproduction can easily evolve in a number of ways, including the following sequence:

1. Start with single-cell organisms which reproduce by splitting, like most bacteria.

2. At some point one of the organisms stumbles upon a way to insert its DNA into other similar organisms, thus reproducing by "proxy" like a cuckoo bird which lays its eggs in other birds' nests. The evolutionary advantage to this should be obvious. And many microorganisms do this even today.

3. Eventually there's a whole host of its (direct and indirect) offspring around, all forcibly "impregnating" each other and cross-sharing DNA.

4. Since this is a valuable trait-sharing method, over time the species refines the process so that each individual is specialized at both "donating" DNA and being "receptive" to DNA from others. At this point there is true sexual reproduction taking place, even though there are no separate "males" and "females" -- all individuals are effectively hermaphrodites.

5. Later (and this can take place at either the single-cell stage, or a zillion generations later after the species has become hermaphroditic multi-celled creatures, like say earthworms), a mutant arises which has lost the ability to donate DNA, and becomes the first exclusively "female" organism in a population of hermaphrodites. No problem, it can still reproduce by receiving DNA from the hermaphrodites, even if it can't donate any DNA to others. It, and its female offspring, will still prosper and interbreed with the rest of the "male+female" population. Or perhaps a "male" arises first by losing the "receptive to DNA" structure -- same argument either way, it can still reproduce by donating DNA to others.

6. If females arise first, there's evolutionary pressure for at least some of the remaining hermaphrodites to specialize in impregnating the female form of the species. Over time they're likely to specialize so much that they become "males only". Or vice versa for the rise of a female type if males first arose in the population. Eventually hermaphroditic forms can fade away entirely, leaving nothing but "pure males" and "pure females" as the two dimorphic forms of the same species.

68 posted on 07/30/2003 4:20:15 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: r9etb
But how you get males and females that can mate and produce fertile male/female offspring? Where does the mating behavior come from?

A long series of much smaller mutations, each of which was sustainable and/or advantageous to the organism(s) that posessed it.

69 posted on 07/30/2003 4:24:51 PM PDT by Yeti
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To: XJarhead
I cannot believe a person with those academic credentials could ask such a stupid question. The genetic variation and natural selection argument seemingly cuts that to ribbons.

That ought to cut both ways, though. One of the Great Mysteries, it seems to me, is why mitochondria have never developed an adaptation that attacks or interferes with arriving sperm that carry a Y chromosome.

If I'm a mitochondrium, and I'm in the egg waiting for a sperm to come along, it is in my interest to kill any Y-bearing spermatozoa. The only way my genes get any farther than one more generation of humans is if this egg I'm in gets fertilized with an 'X'.

If this adaptation had ever arisen, it would be noticable in maybe 50 or 100 generations. We would see 60-40 or even 70-30 ratios of female to male babies being born. This would be a highly successful adaptation for the mitochrondria. Can you think of any reason why this could not happen?


70 posted on 07/30/2003 4:34:59 PM PDT by Nick Danger (The views expressed may not actually be views)
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To: UseYourHead
Speaking of evolving...

and think...parents are paying this droid to teach their kids about the birds
and the bees (so to speak)...
71 posted on 07/30/2003 4:37:28 PM PDT by VOA
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To: I_dmc
Sex: do we really need it?

Yes

72 posted on 07/30/2003 4:37:30 PM PDT by Petruchio (<===Looks Sexy in a flightsuit . . . Looks Silly in a french maid outfit)
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To: wardaddy
bttt...
73 posted on 07/30/2003 5:52:30 PM PDT by sit-rep
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To: Petruchio
Looks Sexy in a flightsuit . . . Looks Silly in a french maid outfit

Ummmmm....may I be so bold as to suggest getting some sun on your time off? Any female would look good in a maid outfit, especially if she is fit enough to be in a flightsuit!

JMHO...

74 posted on 07/30/2003 5:55:50 PM PDT by sit-rep
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To: sit-rep
Click on my name.

Look at the picture.

Then re-think your post.

FRegards
75 posted on 07/30/2003 7:15:42 PM PDT by Petruchio (<===Looks Sexy in a flightsuit . . . Looks Silly in a french maid outfit)
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To: Joe Brower
Noooo! My ex blamed me for her weight gain since I would bring home Dove bars now & then. She told me how she "hated" me for trying to please her.

Go figure.

Scratch that. I don't need trial lawyers coming after me....

76 posted on 07/30/2003 7:41:09 PM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: I_dmc
Sex: do we really need it?

Aside from when we have sex in order to procreate, our sexual needs are more psychological than physical.

77 posted on 07/30/2003 7:52:48 PM PDT by usadave
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To: Lost Highway
LOL!
78 posted on 07/30/2003 7:55:41 PM PDT by Nathaniel Fischer (Mark Sanford in '08)
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To: wardaddy
More whining from ugly women who had issues with wardaddy.

;^)

79 posted on 07/30/2003 7:58:20 PM PDT by austinTparty
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To: VOA
For the life of me I can't think of a single animal on earth that doesn't need a partner to reproduce. Off the top of my head. I know there are a few out there but there must not be many that are beyond single cells.

Did she skip the childhood stage that drives parents crazy???
Any parent out there know the WHY? Stage that all children go through.
Her question makes me wonder what planet she was raised on.
Cause any child who has a pet that a parent doesn't get fixed will find a way reproduce.

Sex: do we really need it?

YES!!!!!
I can't think of any other animals besides humans that not only mate to reproduce but cause it's enjoyable.

Doctor's even tell a pregeant woman to do IT in the last stage cause the sperm has benifical properties to helping making a deliver easier.


80 posted on 07/30/2003 9:21:35 PM PDT by blackbirdphleps (oklahoma housewife)
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To: I_dmc
the risk of not finding a mate, and the risk of getting a disease during mating

Not if both parteners are virgins when they marry.

81 posted on 07/30/2003 9:38:34 PM PDT by It's me
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To: I_dmc
the risk of not finding a mate, and the risk of getting a disease during mating

Not if both parteners are virgins when they marry.

82 posted on 07/30/2003 9:38:54 PM PDT by It's me
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To: It's me
Ooops...
83 posted on 07/30/2003 9:39:21 PM PDT by It's me
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To: austinTparty
More whining from ugly women who had issues with wardaddy.

LOL...very good!

Actually....more scorn from absolutely drop dead gorgeous women who have had issues with wardaddy because he was a "bad boy".

Now, I'm middle aged with many children and a lovely wife and that is all from someone else's life....but the sins of the father do revisit...terrifyingly....especially with lovely teenaged daughters. G-d knew all he had to do was wait.

84 posted on 07/30/2003 9:43:45 PM PDT by wardaddy (True happiness is nuts after the flop.)
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To: austinTparty
Beautiful homepage...great town...I have kin there and an ex girlfriend as well who is tenured at UT.
85 posted on 07/30/2003 9:45:07 PM PDT by wardaddy (True happiness is nuts after the flop.)
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To: Petruchio
Ummmm(cough), well I guess so! All I can say at this point is, whats up with the tag line??
86 posted on 07/31/2003 4:30:05 AM PDT by sit-rep
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To: TRY ONE
"Me don't don't think you know what you're talking about. Much IS WRITTEN in the WORD if one wants to go read it!"

Well let's put it to the test shall we? Does one need to be baptized (immersed) in water to be saved? (I shant hold my breath for a response...)

87 posted on 07/31/2003 4:34:25 AM PDT by Windsong
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To: TRY ONE
"Gen. 4:1 "Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain.."

This happened after they were expelled. *Ahem*

88 posted on 07/31/2003 4:38:14 AM PDT by Windsong
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To: I_dmc
Yes
89 posted on 07/31/2003 5:06:49 AM PDT by Freepers Son (Don't bite my sister, Mr Moose. I've got cheese and I'm not afraid to use it!)
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To: Windsong
"Well let's put it to the test shall we? Does one need to be baptized (immersed) in water to be saved? (I shant hold my breath for a response...)"

NOOP! Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved!

Christ + nothing else = Salvation!


90 posted on 07/31/2003 6:06:42 AM PDT by TRY ONE (")
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To: Windsong
"Gen. 4:1 "Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain.."
This happened after they were expelled. *Ahem*

--- So, you're saying there would be no sexual relations had there not been the "Fall"????? That God would have continued to create humans outside the womb? Must be in the Book of Hesitations!


91 posted on 07/31/2003 6:12:07 AM PDT by TRY ONE (")
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To: ravingnutter
Thanks better creature:-)

Three ladies were walking down the street when they found a lamp. So one of the ladies rubs it and a genie pops out. "I will grant each of you one wish, and only one wish." So the ladies were thinking long and hard when the first lady says "I got it! I would like to be extremely smart."{POOF} This lady can read the dictionary like it was nothing, spell any word, and do math within seconds. The other two girls were amazed...so the second lady says "I want to be two times smarter than my friend."{POOF} Now the second lady was two times smarter than the first...she could speak five other languages, found the formula for nuclear fusion, and explain everything about our DNA. Totally blown away, the third lady says that she has it "I want to be two times smarter than both my friends put together."{POOF} She turns into a man. :)

92 posted on 07/31/2003 6:54:34 AM PDT by philosofy123
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To: I_dmc
Sex was designed by God so that husband and wife could bond as well as produce children (which in itself is a bonding experience). Unfortunately, man has perverted this beautiful gift from our Creator.
93 posted on 07/31/2003 7:01:32 AM PDT by MEGoody
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To: XJarhead
"The genetic variation and natural selection argument seemingly cuts that to ribbons."

But why was that required? The first single-celled organisms didn't have intercourse to reproduce, did they? And yet they somehow 'evolved' into something else at some point. The question is then, why did they later evolve into creatures that reproduced via intercourse? What was the purpose? And what factors specifically caused the evolution of two sexes?

94 posted on 07/31/2003 7:05:30 AM PDT by MEGoody
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To: XJarhead
"And because it was such a successful mutation, it became the dominant pattern for advanced life."

Please tell me, what are the most plentiful life forms on the planet. Are they not single-celled creatures who do not use intercourse for reproduction?

So how is that method of reproduction not successful?

95 posted on 07/31/2003 7:07:50 AM PDT by MEGoody
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To: wardaddy
Now we all know what our parents greatest revenge is: watching their children deal with their own children who are acting just like they did! Certainly makes one have a lot more appreciative, doesn't it? Reminds me of that Mark Twain quote:

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years."

:o)

96 posted on 07/31/2003 7:18:28 AM PDT by austinTparty
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To: wardaddy
Now we all know what our parents greatest revenge is: watching their children deal with their own children who are acting just like they did! Certainly makes one have a lot more appreciative, doesn't it? Reminds me of that Mark Twain quote:

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years."

:o)

97 posted on 07/31/2003 7:18:28 AM PDT by austinTparty
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To: sit-rep
All I can say at this point is, whats up with the tag line??

I got tired of all the druling (sp?) over the picture of Bush in a flight suit. In the tag line the arrow points to me and describes me. I do look a whole lot better in a flight suit than a french maid's outfit. The only drawback to that tagline is that the single freepettes here have not taken the hint and jumped on these old bones . . .

98 posted on 07/31/2003 8:20:47 AM PDT by Petruchio (<===Looks Sexy in a flightsuit . . . Looks Silly in a french maid outfit)
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To: Nick Danger
Maybe sperm themselves have adapted to whatever adaptations mitochondria may have made, or maybe distinguishing between X and Y bearing sperm is beyond the capability of a mitochondria. Or maybe it is not in their interest, as the elimination of all Y bearing sperm would kill off the species by making reproduction impossible.
99 posted on 07/31/2003 8:45:23 AM PDT by XJarhead
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To: MEGoody
Please tell me, what are the most plentiful life forms on the planet. Are they not single-celled creatures who do not use intercourse for reproduction?

Yup. So how is that method of reproduction not successful?

If you consider biological success as topping out at being a single-cell life form, you've got a point. I'd flip it around as evidence that asexual reproduction works for simple life forms, but higher life forms require something more. The mutation into separate sexes permitted more genetic variation, and so massively accelerated the evolutionary process for those particular life forms. Personally, I'd consider humanity a pretty good biological success.

100 posted on 07/31/2003 8:52:20 AM PDT by XJarhead
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