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Biologists Debunk the "Rotting Y Chromosome" Theory

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the men-of-the-future dept.

Science 248

An anonymous reader writes "Biologists have previously predicted that that the male sex-determining Y chromosome, which once carried around 800 genes, like the X, has lost hundreds of them over the past 300 million years, will mutate itself out of existence, leading to the eventual extinction of men. However, researchers of a study published in the latest issue of Nature found evidence to suggest that the Y chromosome will not shed any more of the 19 ancestral genes that it is left with."

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I dunno... (4, Funny)

owenferguson (521762) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132273)

I tend to shed my genes all over the place ... on the floor, in some Kleenex, in dirty socks...

Re:I dunno... (1, Funny)

owenferguson (521762) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132285)

...and they definitely start to rot, if they don't have a chance to dry out...

Re:I dunno... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132879)

Any nearby ants will be happy to help out.

Moon-conspiracy against Earth women. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132763)

The goal is that Space-station orbitting the Earth is full of grey reptilian aliens that want to destroy the women of Earth by mutating the male genes out of existance to leave them either a choice of becoming tribbing Lesbians like birds and honeybee drones or accept the fate of being double-dicked by reptile-men.

I am a beareded lesbian, borne with a modified oviposittor; the grey aliens can't win no matter whom I mutate into.

Re:I dunno... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132831)

Well, at least you aren't breeding.

Both sexes are valuable (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132281)

While our Y chromosome may make us (men) more susceptible to genetic diseases, it also allows for more rapid adaptation and spread if a mutation is beneficial. I certainly wouldn't want it to go away.

Re:Both sexes are valuable (3, Interesting)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132363)

I never quite understood the idea of men going extinct. I'm not a biologist but it seems the last place survival of the fittest is going to stop working is on the first step. I mean once an x chromosome in a male stops functioning it's not going to get passed on. The ones that continue to function will continue to be passed on.

Re:Both sexes are valuable (5, Interesting)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132405)

Except that they were talking about the Y chromosome. The problem with it is that it doesn't get combined with genetic material from the mother, it's passed on as-is. So over time it can degrade due to mutations, and it has done this in the past. However natural selection is strong enough to maintain it.

Re:Both sexes are valuable (4, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132623)

Another problem with the y chromesome is that it's not fully redundant with the x chromesome. There are plenty of important genes on the x chromesome that are not duplicated on the y chromesome. There are some diseases which mainly show up in men because females can be heterozygous for it, have one faulty copy but one good copy and be okay. Men on the other hand are hemizygous for genes on the x chromosome. If we get a faulty copy, that's it. We have the disease.

Re:Both sexes are valuable (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132971)

I'm interested, why the except? Just because it doesn't get combined with the mother's DNA it really doesn't change the fundamental concepts of evolution. Sure it helps to have to genes to make a protein in case one fails but I don't see that it's required. My understanding is mitochondrial is passed on unchanged. Would there be any reason to suspect it will degrade because of this? The first lifeforms and a lot of life today produces asexually. It doesn't seem to imply a degradation to the point of extinction.

Re:Both sexes are valuable (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132989)

Sorry, just noticed I put x chromosome in my original post and that led to the except. Funny how you can reread something and your brain will just keep reading what it expects to see.

Re:Both sexes are valuable (5, Interesting)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132993)

Well, there's no specific reason to favor the XY system of sex determination over some alternative arrangement, like the ZW system in birds (females are ZW, males are ZZ). In that case, the Z chromosome is larger and has more genes than the W. On the other hand, there's really no evidence to suggest that the XY system is any worse than the alternatives, or at least worse enough to support some sort of changeover (or lead to the extinction of placental and marsupial mammals). It does make sense to let Y "rot" to a certain extent: letting Y "cross over" with X is hazardous. It leads to the possibility of producing gametes that contain X chromosomes with male-sex determining genes, and gametes that contain Y chromosomes that lack those male-determining genes. It is to the system's benefit that X and Y are completely non-homologous, even factoring in the problem of X-linked diseases. It's theoretically possible that the function of Y could be captured in a single gene [wikipedia.org] . However, chromosomes are also physical structures that have to be able to be manipulated by the machinery of the cell. It's likely that there is a minimum size for that to be done without high risk of error, which means that Y is safe.... for now.

Re:Both sexes are valuable (2, Insightful)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132599)

The comments made me think of this: http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/goodaboutmen.htm [fsu.edu] . The changing roles of the sexes and modern technology are causing people to honestly ask the question, what are men FOR? As I look back on 50 years of life and 35 years of dating/interacting with females, I wonder too.

Rotting Y Chromosome (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132297)

It's a common condition afflicting millions of male zombies worldwide.

Time scale (1)

philip.paradis (2580427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132301)

Even if it had been true that males would "go extinct" from this, I'm not at all convinced humanity will even resemble today's humans in the millions of years it would have taken to occur. In fact, I suspect humanity will diverge radically within the coming tens/hundreds/thousands of years from other countless other factors that we may not have even considered yet.

Re:Time scale (4, Interesting)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132403)

That divergence might occur upstairs between the ears. Some groupings of autistic traits seem to be early precursors of that divergence. Call it a disability if you must, but there's gold in them genes for some folks who get the right combination.

Re:Time scale (4, Informative)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132615)

Autism is not the superpower that many people make it out to be. You only see the high functioning autistic people. There are a great many who cannot even communicate above an infantile level. Many also suffer from severe OCD. These people need constant care throughout their lives. The brilliance aspect is only found in a small percentage of autistic people, and I've never seen a conclusive study showing that brilliance is any more common among the autistic than it is among "normal" people. It may be that it is simply more noticeable when someone who's autistic has some great talent.

Re:Time scale (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132663)

I think that is exactly why he stated "who get the right combination."

Re:Time scale (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132841)

Of course it was!

Re:Time scale (5, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132931)

If "the right combination" is intelligence + virtually no trace of autism symptoms, then why not just take the intelligence part and leave off the crippling disability? Autism is not a prerequisite to high intelligence. There are plenty of truly brilliant people out there who aren't autistic at all.

I used to work in a school for autistic children. I was just the IT guy, but I was in the classroom at times and saw how hard the kids had to work to grasp things that most toddlers can do intuitively. I think it's unfortunate that when kids like that overcome their illness and do great things, people think "Wow, he sure benefited from those genes" instead of "Wow, that guy must have worked really hard to become so brilliant despite his disability."

Re:Time scale (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132887)

I don't see only the high functioning people. I've seen some of the histrionic poop-slinging worst (literally), too, and my own demons aren't to be trifled with. In spite of that, I still stand by my wild unsubstantiated theory. Careful what you presume about people you only know from occasional text on a screen. I did make a careful qualification in my statement, but you overlooked or ignored it.

Re:Time scale (2)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39133031)

I already responded to the AC w.r.t. your qualification, but I want to add this, since it sounds like you may have taken offense at my post, which was never my intent. I am making no presumptions about you. I am not trying to say that you are bad for thinking the way you do, or anything like that. It's just that after having a lot of first hand experience with actual autistic people, and contrasting that with the way people treat the condition in popular culture (particular the self-diagnosing geeks who seem to want to be autistic), it makes me concerned that people are trivializing what is actually a very serious condition.

I'm not saying that you're trivializing it, at least not intentionally, but when you say things like "call it a disability if you must", it feeds into this common perception that autism is actually a beneficial condition that just comes with the cost of a bit of social awkwardness.

Re:Time scale (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39133189)

There's a reason it's called a Spectrum. Not everyone on it gets to be on the right or even middle parts of it (and I don't know if I'm on it at all). Not all mutations have a positive or even survivable outcome. That's the nature of the beast. I myself am likely to wind up as an evolutionary dead end. I wasn't trivializing it, even if it feeds the common perception.

And NOW board of directors.... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132303)

...shed a tiny tear.

Well then...Only 1 thing that could mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132309)

The next natural step is the complete disappearance of the chromosome.

Wanted to buy... (4, Funny)

Sasayaki (1096761) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132315)

... go-forward time machine. That way, when Sally McKnight in high school told me, "No way, not if you were literally the last man alive", I can finally test this theory!

I'm not getting absolutely no sex because I'm a hideous subhuman monster, physically and emotionally... no. I'm doing it for SCIENCE.

Re:Wanted to buy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132335)

To be fair, she said "NOT EVEN IF", she didn't say "ONLY IF".

Still no luck fo

Re:Wanted to buy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132439)

Thats what she would say, but you know she would!

Re:Wanted to buy... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132499)

Get a back in time machine instead. Asking women for sex instead of hitting them on the head with a club, or more modernly buying them from their father is a fairly modern concept.

Re:Wanted to buy... (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132785)

that "hitting them on the head with club" is a myth, marriage in the sense of a pair bonding for a time is ancient. and in primative hunter-gatherer tribal settings the father wouldn't be known

Re:Wanted to buy... (3, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132751)

I'm not getting absolutely no sex because I'm a hideous subhuman monster, physically and emotionally... no. I'm doing it for SCIENCE.

I'd say you need a control group of hookers and blow. For science of course.

Re:Wanted to buy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39133045)

Heh, heh. I remember Sally.

Good times.

Seems like a non-issue either way (4, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132345)

It really seems like a non-issue regardless of whether or not the Y chromosome is "rotting." Evolution moves slowly enough that by the time it would become an issue, humans will probably have learned enough about genetics to prevent it from happening if necessary. The other alternative is that we decide it's a good idea and speed the process up by a lot.

Re:Seems like a non-issue either way (1)

deburg (838010) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132455)

Sorry, but in my point of view, "Evolution" is just natural selection. It's not pro-human, it doesn't gurantee that humans will develop and implement an alternative in time.

In fact, evolution will see that if humans fall, something else will evolve to replace them. Unless something stops evolution, like killing all life off the planet.

Re:Seems like a non-issue either way (5, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132721)

> ...evolution will see that...

Don't anthropomorphize evolution. It doesn't like that.

some feminists (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132351)

I remember some rabid man-hating feminists really trumpeting the theory that in 100,000 to 2 million years y chromosome would disappear. hah!

Re:some feminists (1, Funny)

philip.paradis (2580427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132397)

I think the old expression "people should be careful what they ask for" applies here. Imagine a planet populated by only women. Now imagine a high percentage of those women having that "special time of the month" at the same time. WWIII... I don't think those rabid feminists were really thinking things through.

On second thought, maybe they did think it through, and were planning on taking Aunt Flo out of the equation anyhow. I'm going to stop thinking about this now, because it's starting to get scary.

Re:some feminists (1)

deburg (838010) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132477)

A planet full of women? Maybe I've been reading too much manga, but that somehow sounds kinky.

I blame /u/ for this.

Re:some feminists (1)

Squiddie (1942230) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132519)

Yeah, but this is a planet full of feminist women, so it's a little harrier and no protagonist.

Re:some feminists (2)

BluBrick (1924) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132587)

Not on a planet of only women, but the topic of having a high percentage of women on the same cycle (i.e. ALL of them) was addressed in this series by Robert J. Sawyer [wikipedia.org] .

Re:some feminists (2)

dudpixel (1429789) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132643)

surely the Y chromosome going away would mean the X one following less than 120 year later...??

I'm not losing any sleep over this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132357)

I expect to be dead long before it happens.

Then again, on the off chance that I am one of the immortals (and I just haven't run into Connor McLeod yet) I'll be happy knowing that I still have my Y chromosomes even if no one else does.

correct me if I'm wrong (4, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132369)

But the Y chromosome evolved because sexual reproduction has advantages over asexual reproduction. Until that is nolonger true I can't imagine Y going anywhere.

Re:correct me if I'm wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132503)

Have you seen the people breeding out there?

Re:correct me if I'm wrong (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132569)

yes - they're good at breeding, which is all that's required for a survival advantage over people that suck at breeding.

Re:correct me if I'm wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132619)

The bad part is most are monogamous. Which sucks from evolutionary view point.

Re:correct me if I'm wrong (1)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132991)

No, monogamy is neither here nor there from an evolutionary view point, unless the gene pool is really tiny.

Re:correct me if I'm wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132633)

Not that evolving something means it'll stick around longer than what came before..

Evolution produces processes and organisms that are adapted to current reality. It is, frankly, of no concern to the process of evolution if sexual reproduction is a dead end process. It would be of equally no concern if sexual reproduction slowly mutates itself into sterility. This would seem not to be the case, which is potentially good for future humans. But this finding is certainly no surety that sexual reproduction will hang around.

Re:correct me if I'm wrong (5, Informative)

samoanbiscuit (1273176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132791)

No, the XX/XY system of sex determination is just one of the many types used in nature, mostly by mammals. Some animals use the XX(female)/X0(male) system, like ants and bees, while reptiles, birds and some other use the ZZ(male)/ZW(female) system. As you can see, in birds and reptiles (not crocodilians or turtles those have a temperature based sex determination mechanism) the ZZ chromosome configuration (the default) is male, while the ZW configuration causes female development. However, back to the disappearing Y chromosome, it is the fastest mutating chromosome in the human genome (and in all mammalian genomes) because it does not recombine with an analogue chromosome, the way two X chromosomes would. However, just because genes are "lost" does not mean it is shrinking, and research stated here shows it to be the case.

Re:correct me if I'm wrong (5, Interesting)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 2 years ago | (#39133115)

They Y chromosome not only evolves fast because of lack of recombination, but also because sperm are very many more cell division generations away from the original copy (fertilized ovum) than ova are. The Y chromosome spends 100% of its time in males, normal chromosomes 50%, X chromosomes 33.3%.

Ref: "Male-Driven Sequence Evolution", pg 225, "Molecular Evolution" by Wen-Hsiung Li (1997).

Re:correct me if I'm wrong (2)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132843)

Not all species which use sexual reproduction use an XX/XY system. For example, some species use an XX/XO system where the males have only one copy of the relevant sex chromosome. Other species are completely hermaphroditic. In general, there are a lot of different ways to do sexual reproduction without using an XX/XY system for gender.

Re:correct me if I'm wrong (2)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132855)

The Y is not essential to sexual reproduction. There are mammals that have none: the males merely have a single X. Some plants have no sexual chromosomes at all. In some fish sex is controlled by temperature during development.

Of course (4, Insightful)

aBaldrich (1692238) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132371)

Suppose that someone inherited from his father an Y-Chromosome without the "Manliness Gene". Then he would not have a functioning reproductive system and leave no offspring. The "Manliness Gene" can be lost by a random mutation, but the mutation will never be carried on to the following generation, unless a new sex-determining mechanism already exists.

Why would anybody think otherwise? (5, Interesting)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132373)

So, genders have been around for hundreds of millions of years - why would anybody think that evolution would suddenly make them go away?

In humans it probably doesn't make so much sense to have lots of sex-linked characteristics, so it makes perfect sense that the contents of the Y chromosome would dwindle over time to just the minimal set of genes necessary to confer gender. After that there should be strong selective pressure to conserve things.

Suppose for the sake of argument somebody is born with a Y' chromosome that doesn't confer maleness. Either they'll have non-functional reproductive organs, or functional female ones. In the former case they're an evolutionary dead-end. In the latter case and they reproduce with an XY man then 25% of their children will be normal XX females, 25% will be Y'Y offspring that won't make it to birth lacking an X chromosome, 25% will be normal XY males, and 25% will be XY' like the mother. So, in 75% of those cases the Y' chromosome is lost. And all that assumes that there aren't any deformities/etc that make reproduction less likely. I can't see how such a situation could ever become dominant. It would likely reach some low frequency equilibrium even if not harmful.

The fact that it hasn't already happened makes me think that it is not likely to do so.

Re:Why would anybody think otherwise? (2)

dmbasso (1052166) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132521)

It is pretty obvious that +99% of the genes that express male characteristics are not in the Y chromosome. For all that matters the Y chromossome could have just a single gene.
is_male = True

Re:Why would anybody think otherwise? (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132545)

It's worth noting that XY is not the only combination to result in a male part of species. There are species where XY is female and XX is male, and myriad of more complex variations.

Finally there are species based on hermaphroditism (each individual carries both sets of reproductive organs). Notably this conditions is sometimes (rarely) manifested in humans as well, however due to our genetic and fysiological layout hermaphrodites are rarely if ever capable of sexual reproduction as more then their one "primary" sex.

But anyway, the fact that we, as most of the species on this planet evolved with two sexes in face of extreme competition suggests that system of two sexes and Y-chromosome that is gained from father in unchanged (other then by mutations) state is a very stable system.

Re:Why would anybody think otherwise? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39133077)

So, genders have been around for hundreds of millions of years - why would anybody think that evolution would suddenly make them go away?

First of all, the subject is the disappearence of the Y chromosome, not of sexes. Second, there is evidence that the Y has been shrinking for hundreds of millions of years. These people have shown that the shrinkage more or less stopped about 25M years ago.

What were they thinking? (2)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132375)

The others that were lost simply weren't necessary to the male role; it was a streamlining process to make us lean and mean procreative machines. It's not like all the males conceived at those earlier times suddenly and simultaneously lost one... it was a gradual overlapping process. It was... EVOLUTION. Go figure!

Re:What were they thinking? (1)

deburg (838010) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132527)

At this rate, IF WE TAKE ONE EVOLUTION PATH to the extreme, men are going to be reduced to a set of shaft and balls. Kept in male "libraries" until some female wants it and then ... er.. checked out as needed.

Re:What were they thinking? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132815)

I can't speak for you, but I don't mind being checked out. I don't even mind being overdue for return. It's those damned library culling programs that scare me!

Re:What were they thinking? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132943)

Well the problem started when you kept asking to be moved to the Young Adult section. People were getting creeped out!

Re:What were they thinking? (2)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39133003)

I dunno why... my spine and bindings are as crisp as the day I was published, and the content is all g-rated!

Re:What were they thinking? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132915)

Uh huh. And women will be reduced to just some ovaries and a uterus. Sure.

Re:What were they thinking? (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132585)

exactly, we just need genes that encode for a cock-n-balls, and genes that allow us to open stuck jars and reach high objects.

Re:What were they thinking? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132825)

Yep. Anything else is just icing on the beefcake.

shrinking genome (1)

SinShiva (1429617) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132383)

rotting,.. you mean perfecting?

Re:shrinking genome (2)

dmbasso (1052166) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132567)

Perhaps like Fox News' Ann Coulter suggested that "jews should be perfected" [youtube.com] .

Once again nature shows us... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132385)

Female genes are fat and bloated with all sorts of extra genes, Male genes are lean and efficient.

Re:Once again nature shows us... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132441)

Did you just call my genes fat????

Re:Once again nature shows us... (1)

lvxferre (2470098) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132471)

It's not "fat"... but you could lose some genes...


[Sexist but inevitable joke]
The genes present at women but not at men are instructions about how to make a sandwich.

Seriously speaking now, even if Y chrom' ceases to exist, male gender goes on. But instead of gender being defined as XX/XY, it would be XX/XØ. Lots of species in the nature work like that: grasshoppers and cockroaches and whatever.

Re:Once again nature shows us... (2, Funny)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132481)

Did you just call my genes fat????

Yes ... those genes DO in fact make your ass look big.

And all that cake isn't helping either ...

safe groups even if it happens (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132387)

I guess metrosexuals, hipsters, emo kids, and several other groups were never in any danger in the first place...

link to the source, please (5, Informative)

rritterson (588983) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132391)

Not like I love the Nature Publishing Group (NPG) very much, but let's link to the source to help give the original authors credit. (Which, as far as I can tell, the medical daily article doesn't even do!)

Here is a link to the original paper [nature.com]

For those who aren't molecular biologists or geneticists, here is a link to the Nature news article [nature.com] on the scientific paper

Re:link to the source, please (1)

Pretzalzz (577309) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132691)

That's because the original paper asks you to pay $32 to view it unless you are subscribed[or your IP is subscribed ie by your University]. A subscription is $199 a year.

Who actually thought that? Why? (3, Informative)

Suddenly_Dead (656421) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132399)

If I search for "rotting y theory", all I get are variations of this article. Why would anyone who knows anything about evolution and genetics actually think that? And who were these people?

Re:Who actually thought that? Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132727)

It was their own pet theory and working hypothesis. Now it's disproven they naturally present it as someone else's idea. Wouldn't you?

Re:Who actually thought that? Why? (2)

Empiric (675968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132817)

"For the past 10 years, the one dominant storyline in public discourse about the Y is that it is disappearing," Whitehead Institute Director David Page said in a statement released on Wednesday. "Putting aside the question of whether this ever had a sound scientific basis, the story went viralâ"fastâ"and has stayed viral. I can't give a talk without being asked about the disappearing Y. This idea has been so pervasive that it has kept us from moving on to address the really important questions about the Y."

Strategy #2: The best possibility for one's obscure idea to go viral is provided by declaring (ideally, through a high-traffic venue such as Slashdot) that everybody informed already knows the concept has gone viral.

Re:Who actually thought that? Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132729)

I suspect supporters of building a case for population control/eugenics ie: government and certain mindsets of feminists.

Re:Who actually thought that? Why? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132845)

wasn't really called that, you can look for "y chromosome degeneration" http://www.physorg.com/news167026463.html [physorg.com]

Confused... (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132591)

I don't think a theory suggesting the extinction of males just because the y chromosome is small is sufficiently prevalent to require debunking. If so the state of science is far worse than I had imagined...

Re:Confused... (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132869)

no, those theories were instead based on the known degeneration over time of Y. what this study shows is that the degeneration, once exponentially fast, keep to a skidding halt in our immediate primate ancestors

Re:Confused... (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132997)

I was under the impression the general understood consensus is that generally in evolution, usually past performance is not a reliable indicator of future events. If there is no selection pressure at work, things randomly vary one way or another and those variances 'just are'. There seems to be some popular desire for evolution to have some sort of will, some predictable course where toes dissolve and brains get bigger because we perceive toes as useless and brains as good. The grade of evolution is simply 'how successful at reproducing was the organism', quality of life and other factors may be valued by humanity, but do not serve as qualifiers for evolution.

Re:Confused... (2)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132877)

I think that the scientists understand that the disappearence of the Y chromosome does not mean the disappearence of men. The reporters, on the other hand...

Nineteen genes? That's three too many. (1)

GAATTC (870216) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132601)

What do you mean 19 genes - there are only 16 [scienceblogs.com] .

Re:Nineteen genes? That's three too many. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132647)

One of the genes causes dyslexia.

"...leading to the eventual extinction of men" (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132703)

Where did you get that ridiculous idea?

Y ain't going' nowhere - makes testes (2)

RemiT (182856) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132737)

Just finished teaching the units on male and female sexual development at a major medical school last week. Even my students know that you need part of the human Y chromosome (SRY gene) to make testes differentiate from primordial gonad tissue. It also makes the 'pre-Fallopian tubes' and what would become uterus and much of vagina (Mullerian duct system) "go away" in developing male fetuses. If SRY gene "jumps" to another chromosome, you don't get proper differentiation of gonads and genitalia. No SRY, general 'female type' morphogenesis. No Y, no sperm, no babies without cloning or parthenogenesis. Without the X and Y autosomes we really lose the basis for most human sexual reproduction... No fun (for standard hetero sex repro) even if you do like sci-fi and scenarios of massive gene and body engineering! Still I seem to recall one or two sci-fi Amazon (non-dot com) societies with parthenogenesis out there in the meta-universe.

Re:Y ain't going' nowhere - makes testes (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132893)

I think that the assumption is that those genes would move elsewhere and other mechanisms would develop to control differentiation. Other lifeforms manage it.

Re:Y ain't going' nowhere - makes testes (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39133013)

The question being what would be the mechanism to drive such a change. Just because we want to create a pattern doesn't mean we can absent of some scientific explanation as to why that would be the case.

Re:Y ain't going' nowhere - makes testes (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39133049)

The question being what would be the mechanism to drive such a change.

The point of the article seems to be that the change is not ocurring.

like the asgard ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39132783)

It wont be long before males are totally unnecessary. Fertilize a female egg with female skin/mouth cells and that will be the end of the y chromosome. Together with some kind of incubator (sure to be developed in the future) and that will be the end of it.

Some women think... (4, Funny)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132881)

...the Y chromosome is already rotten.

DAMNIT!! (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132953)

Well, I guess I can stop work on my time machine, they won't be needing me for insemination like I'd hoped.

Men still needed ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39132987)

... to kill spiders.

"anymore" is not a word. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39133025)

Yeah, yeah, I know. There is some internet rule about not correcting people's writing. But this is getting ridiculous! I see common words smashed together more and more often lately. Too often to be mere typos. Come on, people. Read over your posts at least once before clicking submit.

Re:"anymore" is not a word. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39133143)

Irregardless, theirs alot of that bad English now.

Duh... (1)

Livius (318358) | more than 2 years ago | (#39133073)

Reducing size is one thing, degenerating down to nothing makes no sense. Sexual reproduction is still going strong after 500 or 600 million years.

I reminded of the "prediction" that Pluto, will all the downward recalculations of its mass since its discovery, would end up with negative mass and negative volume by mid 21st century.

WTF (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39133101)

From the article:

After decoding the 25 million years old rhesus macaque, an ancestor to both chimpanzees and humans researchers found that the macaque Y contained just 20 genes, just one more that the human Y has lost, and although the human Y chromosome has lengthened and grown significantly longer than the macaque chromosome, the genes were mostly the same.

Seriously, WTF?

This must be like the appendix... (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39133153)

The Appendix is a vestigial organ. It used to do something useful. That said, it's now kind of pointless, however it won't go away. The problem is that its now as small as it can safely get. Any smaller and it becomes a black hole for anything passing through the gut, and boom! Appendicitis. So there is this powerful Darwinian selection factor for it to be small, but not too small, and certainly not gone.

Of course, if women ever get parthenogenesis nailed down, you guys should get really worried. We women would keep the last couple remaining guys in a petting zoo.

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