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10. SEX Previous | Next

There are better ways to reproduce

NO one knows why we reproduce by having sex. All the arguments in favour of sex are countered by stronger arguments in favour of self-cloning: asexual reproduction, where an organism produces a copy of itself, is a much more efficient way to pass your genes down to the next generation. The puzzle is, why hasn’t asexual reproduction taken over? Asexual reproduction does exist in patches of the natural world, but sex is everywhere.

To Charles Darwin, the reason for the prevalence of sexual reproduction was “hidden in darkness”. More than a century later, in 1976, Maynard Smith said the problem with sex was so intransigent it made him feel "some essential feature of the system is being overlooked." Three decades later, the problem is still here.

The intriguing thing is, if you look at sex in terms of how it evolved its relationship with death, some interesting things begin to emerge. Could it be that sex is not the prime driver biology has taught us to believe?

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#1 - Posted: 08/08/2008 13:15

I'm no expert, but I would imagine that inherited genes from two partners are much more likely to have a mutation that has a survival advantage. This mutation can than be passed on. Asexual reproduction seems like a dead end. If there is a mutation that has some advantage it dies with the owner of that mutation. I see very little chance for evoloution. Just the fact that a life form makes it to sexual maturity means that there is some form of robustness. There is ample evidence of females being able to detect traits in potential mates that would have a survival advantage. Female birds that judge a potential mates displays, nest building skills, courtship rituals. One only needs to look at how primitive life forms are that reporduce asexualy to conclude that sexual reproduction offers more opportunites to diversify and evolve. Besides, I'm pretty sure it's more fun.

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