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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: 09/08/2008 01:10

The most important mission of life is to survive time. I don’t remember where I read about that not the strongest species survives over time but the one that can learn to adapt to the new conditions faster.

In the situation of species where every organism clones itself, each individual will have to “learn” by itself how to adapt to the new environmental changes and pass that information to the next generation to avoid extinction. And here I’m not talking about the parent teaching the new generation hunting tricks for a new pray. I’m talking about the ability to survive in colder or wormer climate that before, or with less water, less light, or surviving in fresh water instead of sea water. How about changing color, become poisoned, grow stronger legs to run faster or even grow wings to escape new predators, etc. This requires some changes in the genetic code. Cloning the same genes over again the chances are kind of small for those changes to occur and it will take a long time to adapt.

For organisms that use sex for reproduction the new generation always ends up with a mix of genes from the parents ensuring a larger pool of combinations hence higher chances to have individuals in the new generation better suited for survival. The information is shared between the individuals and the specie could adapt faster.

Organisms are successfully using both methods and seems like the simple and efficient and most suited for the situation is the winning combination if you are to survive. It’s seems like the more evolved the organism the more specialization in sex.

I’m no expert in the field but this is the best I can think of with my current knowledge.

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