Saturday, January 11, 2014

Men Aren't Becoming Extinct; What Am I Even Reading

What in the world is on my wires right now.

Okay. So there's this bit of news, I'm seeing it in the Huffington Post, concerning the Y chromosome, the gene that makes you a male at birth. (Remember, XX chromosomes mean female; XY means male.) Over the course of a couple hundred million years, the Y chromosome has shed bits of DNA, eventually taking it from a size on par with the X to about a tenth of the same size. This has led some people to worry that the other tenth will shrivel away as well, thus meaning there won't be men anymore. The HuffPo article notes that, don't worry, folks, we think the Y is done shrinking.

First off, let us note that this is not a new worry. The New York Times made a similar commentary two years ago, and says this worry has been around for quite a while.

Second... what in the world is wrong with you people. I've heard of inbreeding. I've heard of dead-end hybrid animals, such as mules, offspring of a male donkey and female horse, which reproduce so rarely that a lot of people go about their lives believing them to be sterile (and the males may in fact be sterile). I've heard of species proving to be poor fits for a changed environment. I've even heard of a species self-destructing, as may end up being the case for the kakapo, a bird that once upon a time was able to fly but can't anymore but still thinks it's able to fly and you can guess how endangered the species is. But I have never heard of a species breeding away one of its genders. I'm not even sure that's possible. Even if the Y chromosome did go away- which happened in the case of a couple species of Okinawa spiny rat- what happened there is another gene took over to become the new differentiator between male and female and the rat kept on keeping on.

No, concerned people. Males aren't going to go away. There isn't some heretofore-unknown piece of genetic code hiding somewhere inside of you that's all of a sudden going to activate and take away your penis and replace it with a vagina. Or whatever it is you're worrying about. Probably some version of that, because I sure as hell haven't seen anyone worrying about, oh, say, the survival of the species because there's only one gender left. It's pretty much all been OH NOES MY MANHOODS. For Pete's sake. You whipped your genes out and the girls' is bigger. Get over it.

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