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I think there is a world market for maybe five computers. Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

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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Location:Arlington, Virginia

#1 - Posted: 09/08/2008 18:16

The reason given in my college classes for sex was that sex yields more genetic diversity and variation within a species.  And diversity and variation are the key to survival of the speices in a ever changing and hostile world.  One example would be If pedators could evolve quicker then their prey through sexual varition,  the predators would be able to evolve to overcome the prey's defenses.  And once that happened, the prey would vanish as a species because they could not evolve quickly enough through variation caused by mutations to keep up with the predator's evolutionary changes.  Survivial of the species as a whole is key to survival of the individual gene.  Also a single gene's survival chances are better if "it's offspring" are varied individuals, rather than all the same.  Once again, variation is the key to survival given varying environmental stresses on a population.

Plus, sex is a hell of a lot more fun.


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