Sex, sex, sex

Despite the racy sounding title this is just more science talk. Sorry!

For much of the history of our planet evolution was a slow process driven mainly by mutations and the sloppy moving of genes from bacteria to bacteria. The advent of sexual reproduction changed that. This innovation allowed for mixing of genes between individuals in the same species and the resulting shuffling of genes on a regular basis allowed for explosive changes. Day to day that doesn't make much of a difference, though some might dispute that when a lovely member of the other gender walks by, but what sex does allow a species to do is adapt with incredible rapidity to changes in the environment.

You take away sexual reproduction and cool off the environment drastically and you'd lose most species. Yet despite a number of glacial periods over the past few hundred thousand years, few species seemed to have been eliminated by glaciation. Humans, of course, have thrived in this period and might have had a hand in the elimination of a number of large animal species in North America. This all leads into the topic of global warming which is quite interesting and controversial...

But back to sex! People often leap to the conclusion that sex has allowed species like ours to dominate the planet. It's true that adaptability is a dramatic way to exist but it's like the fable about the tortoise and the hare. Often slow and steady wins the race. While many think that the dominant species on the planet is Homo Sapiens, a more logical choice would be the asexual bacteria. But more about that later...

Comments

GPV said…
then it must be for later,too bad I was getting into it.

I'll sign up as a bacteria.
Nattie said…
No wonder some plants are into asexual reproduction...hehehehe....
And also self-pollinating species...They are smart, they want the offspring, but no other relationship attached...LOL...
I mean look at marine life, and the corals...they are neither male nor female. They just grow an extra limb, like polyps...
And the clownfish sexing, they don't know if they are male or female yet...I am not sure about my 2 cents worth of rotten biology...Utenzi, maybe u can advise and do a Biology refresher 101 course?
utenzi said…
Yes, Himiko, raising our own offspring is expensive in terms of money, energy, and emotionally. But it's about the only way to develop species with high intelligence. There's too long a learning curve for our young--and I'm referring to most mammals here not just humans--for the parents to be able to just let them go. I must admit it is tempting at times! LOL

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