back to article All men are part of a PURE GENETIC ELITE, says geno-science bloke

According to a new research from genetics gurus, the Y chromosome that all men carry is not at all hobbled by its missing bit. For those who don't know, men carry the XY chromosome pair, while women carry two X chromosomes. The bloke-osome is thought to have evolved from the X, with bits dropping off during 300 million years …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could read it both ways.....

    Saying that "What the boffinry gang found was that the human Y had shed just one ancestral gene over the past 25 million years." could also mean that men haven't evolved one bit for 25 million years and are still simian brutes at heart..... which would confirm the gut feelings of many women :-)

    1. Michael Thibault
      Holmes

      Re: Could read it both ways.....

      Some like surprises, but most don't like some surprises.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Trollface

      Re: Could read it both ways.....

      But those genes are also found in a variety of higher mammals (all the ones they tested, anyway). So you could compare Men to most any common mammal you like.

      I nominate the squirrel...

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Could read it both ways.....

        So you could compare Men to most any common mammal you like.

        I nominate the squirrel...

        Because we like to keep our nuts hidden?

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Could read it both ways.....

          But unlike squirrels, we never forget where they are

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Could read it both ways.....

            "But unlike squirrels, we never forget where they are"

            They still go rooting for them though

    3. P. Lee
      Trollface

      Re: Could read it both ways.....

      If it takes 25m years to change one gene (and that is a loss of genetic material), how long does it take to gain genetic information?

      4bn years at one loss per 25m years gives us time enough to lose 160 genes which isn't anywhere near enough to go from 600 female to 19 male, without even beginning to contemplate going from zero to the 600 female genes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Could read it both ways.....

        Carry those mathematics to their logical conclusion and you have a rather alarming epiphany to deal with. Others find it not so alarming and just sit back smugly saying "Told you so".

      2. Filippo

        Re: Could read it both ways.....

        That's the whole point of the article.

        The time it takes to change one gene gets longer if the gene is more important, because mutations to important genes are very likely to kill or cripple the individual, preventing the mutation from spreading.

        25m years is a pretty long time, even for evolution; the fact that it took that long to change one gene in Y is a fairly strong indicator that all the genes left on Y are the really rather important ones. Most of those 600 genes in X have probably been evolved away much faster because they weren't needed (or, more likely, because the single copy in a male's single X was sufficient).

        Studies like this one are actually strongly backing the theory of evolution.

      3. dwbellott

        Re: Could read it both ways.....

        You might be tempted to think of the rate of loss as linear, but that actually doesn't make sense (or, as you rightly note, fit the data). The simplest model that fits the available data is that the rate of decay was initially exponential (like radioactive decay), and then stopped as the surviving set of genes were winnowed down to small set of elite genes each too important to lose.

        For a thorough discussion of modeling Y chromosome decay from first principles, see Doris Bachtrog's excellent article in Genetics: http://www.genetics.org/content/179/3/1513.full

        For the reasons why we think decay is best modeled as exponential decay to a constant baseline, see Figure 4 of this paper (with comparison to linear and simple exponential models). As well as Jenn Hughes' 2102 Nature paper with a more limited comparison of human, chimp, and rhesus Y chromosomes: "Strict evolutionary conservation followed rapid gene loss on human and rhesus Y chromosomes"

      4. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: going from zero to the 600 female genes

        This is only because women never throw anything away. My missus has a room full of clothes she can't get into, handbags loaded with keys that don't fit anything, boxes of VCR tapes that are unplayable and the list goes on. 600 sounds about right as a count of her jeans too.

    4. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: AC Re: Could read it both ways.....

      ".... could also mean that men haven't evolved one bit for 25 million years....." Alternatively, it could also suggest that females are just so broken that evolution has spent 25 million years tinkering with the build and still can't get it right. After all, which of us gets PMT?

      1. Sarah Balfour

        Re: AC Could read it both ways.....

        Most blokes I know do - every fucking weekend during the footie/rugger/cricket season(s)… Pre Match Tension and, if they lost, Post Match Tantrum… not to mention Ref Rage/Ump Hump…

        This is the reason I'm currently single (and remaining so…). When my uncle's watching Yorkshire - and they're losing - it's like being in the same room as Geoff Boycott (only with MUCH choicer language…).

        After what WE have to put up with from some of you, the fact that you have to cope with us getting a bit tetchy once a month…

        I REALLY don't think you've any right to complain…

    5. dwbellott

      Re: Could read it both ways.....

      The Y chromosome isn't standing still, it is adding new genes too. See my colleague Jenn Hughes' 2010 Nature article: "Chimpanzee and human Y chromosomes are remarkably divergent in structure and gene content"

      What we show in this study is that in the Y chromosome has also been able to hold on to some of the ancestral genes that it started out with, and that these survivors are a special subset of those ancestral genes.

  2. Michael Thibault
    Pint

    Ah, the half-life of 'truth' and received wisdom. Will all this disappear down the memory hole next week? Or sooner? Something to drink about.

  3. heyrick Silver badge

    the Y chromosome is essential for male viability

    Well obviously. If it was another X, you'd be female...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You had me until you said

    How similar the human Y chromosome is to the chimpanzee's. It brought back what my ex-wife used to call me.

  5. Chris Miller

    Interestingly*

    The sex chromosomes of birds (referred to as Z and W) work the other way round to the mammalian XY system. So male birds are ZZ and females ZW, with the ovum rather than the sperm determining the sex of the offspring.

    This enables female Cuckoos to carry specific information about egg colouration on their W chromosome, so a female cuckoo raised in a parasitised Reed Warbler nest will lay eggs only in Reed Warbler nests and not in those of Meadow Pipits or Dunnocks (also parasitised by Cuckoos). Whereas male Cuckoos can mate with any female Cuckoo, so there are effectively multiple distinct subspecies of female, but only one of the male.

    This is well described by Dawkins in Unweaving the Rainbow and The Extended Phenotype.

    * For some sufficiently small value of 'interesting'.

    1. Richard Wharram

      Re: Interestingly*

      Same in reptiles which allows for females to create males without sex via parthenogenesis.

    2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Interestingly*

      "The sex chromosomes of birds (referred to as Z and W) work the other way round to the mammalian XY system."

      What do you expect from a bunch of bloody dinosaurs?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Interestingly*

        "What do you expect from a bunch of bloody dinosaurs?"

        Longer life expectancy than mammals of equivalent mass - check

        More efficient brains than mammals weight for weight - check

        Better colour vision than mammals - check

        African Grey parrots and jackdaws are particularly intelligent and long lived. We're extremely fortunate that birds don't have a pair of limbs with opposable thumbs, or we'd be the threatened species by now.

        1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

          Re: Interestingly*

          I'll see how they'll oppose their thumbs against a charge of birdshot! Bwahahahah!

        2. Euripides Pants Silver badge
          Terminator

          Re: Interestingly*

          "We're extremely fortunate that birds don't have a pair of limbs with opposable thumbs, or we'd be the threatened species by now."

          Ooooh, new project for the weekend! Gonna build build me a Dalek outta a parrot and a Roomba!

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: Interestingly*

            "Ooooh, new project for the weekend! Gonna build build me a Dalek outta a parrot and a Roomba!"

            I'm never sleeping again.

        3. Robin Bradshaw

          Re: Interestingly*

          http://birdswitharms.tumblr.com/

        4. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Interestingly*

          You forgot more efficient lungs.

          But ultimate brain power, mammals come top, great apes, cetaceans, even some carnivores.

          Put together top mammal brain, some of the better mammal COLOUR vision, but more importantly the visual cortex to process it, and of course hands, humans will remain top. An I think we will remain at the top unless we wipe ourselves out.

        5. TechnicalBen Silver badge

          Re: Interestingly*

          "We're extremely fortunate that birds don't have a pair of limbs with opposable thumbs, or we'd be the threatened species by now."

          Now I wouldn't be too sure of that one (a quick google will give you some interesting answers... though I suppose they are still not opposable digits...).

  6. Scott Broukell

    But ...

    Whenever I put my jeans on the wash it is her frilly undies that come out a different colour thus proving that my jeans are the dominant ones so there!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But ...

      On the other hand, putting underwear in with jeans shows that, no matter how good your genetics is, you're rubbish at using washing machines.

      Out of curiosity, do you have to sleep on the sofa very often?

      1. TitterYeNot
        Coat

        Re: But ...

        "Out of curiosity, do you have to sleep on the sofa very often?"

        Geneticists have speculated for some time by that there is indeed a gene found on the short arm of the Y chromosome that allows the human male to sleep in restricted spaces without getting a crick in his neck.

        It appears to be linked to an as yet unidentified gene that allows the male to filter out higher pitched vocal sounds when attempting to watch sport, as well as being associated with a mutation that causes an awkward delay when responding to the question 'Does my bum look big in this dress?"...

        1. sisk Silver badge

          Re: But ...

          as well as being associated with a mutation that causes an awkward delay when responding to the question 'Does my bum look big in this dress?"

          And here I thought that was the drive towards honesty fighting with the survival instinct....

    2. JohnMurray

      Re: But ...

      Are you sure the frillies are hers ?

      1. Euripides Pants Silver badge

        Re: But ...

        "Are you sure the frillies are hers ?"

        Well, they're certainly not mine!

  7. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Happy

    Platypus man

    I read that the boffin had also found the same X in Platypus. This showed that it had endured for a looong time.

    New movie plot? Man gets bitten by radioactive Platypus, grows poisonous barbs on his heels and starts laying eggs. I want Steven Segal in the lead as only he could express the subtle emotions of the role.

    1. Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day

      Re: Platypus man

      ...and nothing would beat the sight of Segal hunkered down as he drops an egg from his cloaca, that singular expression on his face that he uses for every one of his movie posters.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Platypus man

      Why not Hugh Jackman, he's played a platypus in the past.

    3. dwbellott

      Re: Platypus man

      Steven Segal would be an excellent choice.

      Sadly, the Platypus X chromosomes and Y chromosomes (that right, plural, they have 5 of each) turned out to be unrelated to the XY pair found in marsupials and placental mammals. See: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10577-007-1185-3

  8. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Coat

    Y?

    Because!

    Sorry, couldn't resist. I'll get me coat. The one with "Get thee to a punnery!" in the pocket

  9. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    Man flu

    Does the research explain why man flu is so bad?

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Man flu

      I thought that. Thereby explaining to women that while we must accept their womens problems every month they must put up with our man flu once or twice a year

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Man flu

      Actually yes. Not this one, but it was published in some paper that iirc testosterone makes stuff like flu worse for men.

      1. wowfood

        Re: Man flu

        I don't think it was testosterone as such. It was a particular gland in the brain which is enlarged in males which made us more susceptible to heat changes etc. There's also another theory that goes by evolution, wherein men tended to be the hunter gatherer and wound up dying young, not needing to build up their immune system, while women were left behind in the cave to care for the germ bags. As women grew older the grandmothers also helped raising the germ bags, perhaps even having more, slowly passing on an improved immune system.

        The termerature receptor thing also explains why women can bathe in water hot enough to boil an egg while men have to have their bath luke warm at best.

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7505207/Man-flu-is-no-myth-as-scientists-prove-men-suffer-more-from-disease.html

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9824058/Man-flu-does-exist-as-men-suffer-more-from-high-temperatures-when-ill-scientist.html

        1. Marshalltown

          Hunter gatherer

          Men tend to hunt, women to gather. Take that how you wish.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Man flu

      According to the Daily Fail women are far worse at coping with minor ailments.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2610419/Not-tonight-dear-Ive-got-headache-Women-ARE-likely-sex-pain.html

      One minor little head ache and they can't even cope with something as simple as performing the beast with the two backs, while only some of the more extreme forms on death can stop a man performing his matrimonial duties.

      So man flu must be a myth, it's in the Fail so it must be true.

      1. All names Taken
        Pint

        Re: Man flu

        speechless

        (have a pint dood)

  10. Longrod_von_Hugendong
    Angel

    Thank god...

    We don't have KY genes, cos it would be a slippery slope otherwise...

    (Or I was going to go with Thank god for evolution, please pick which ever one makes you laugh the most.)

  11. MondoMan
    Boffin

    Some clarification

    First, we blokes are, in fact, typically genetically inferior to the fairer sex because of all those hundreds of genes missing from the Y that remain intact on the X. To demonstrate this, one just needs to examine the proportion of men vs. women affected by genetic diseases such as red/green color blindness or the "royal disease" (the hemophilia B-carrying X chromosome passed on to many European royal houses of the 19th century by Queen Victoria) that afflicted the Tsarevich Alexei and entangled his family with the infamous Rasputin. This is because women, with two X chromosomes, essentially have a backup copy for each gene in case one is defective. Men, lacking backups for almost all of their X chromosome genes, are liable to manifest the illness when their one and only copy of the gene is defective.

    That said, this paper really addresses the question of whether the few remaining "normal" genes on the Y (excluding those few dealing directly with sex determination, sperm maturation and so forth that are unique to the Y) are just randomly-chosen lucky survivors of eons of genetic carnage (the canonical "rotting Y" theory) or whether their presence is specifically needed on the Y for some reason.

    To test this, the team (made up of scientists at the Whitehead, Univ. of Wash. in St. Louis, and Baylor) sequenced the Y chromosomes of a range of mammals, reasoning that if the remaining functional genes on the Y were just randomly-chosen, different sets of genes would survive on the Y chromosomes of different mammals, each having undergone a unique history of genetic change since the species' last common ancestor eons ago. If however, these genes were actually required on the Y in a range of mammals to significantly enhance male fitness vs. not having them on the Y, then the *same* set of genes should have functionally survived on each of the different mammals' Y chromosomes. This latter result is what the team observed; they also observed that this small set of genes is widely expressed throughout the body, even in tissues that do not obviously differ between males and females.

    As yet, the functions of these genes are unknown, but they each have cognate counterparts on the X chromosome. Perhaps each gene's Y version has the same function as its cognate X version. However, since the sequences do differ somewhat, there is the intriguing possibility that the Y and X versions *differ* at least somewhat in their specific functionality. The authors speculate that such differences may lead to functional differences between XX and XY versions of cell types that previously had been assumed to function identically in men and woman, and that this may account for some of the observed differences between men and women in e.g. disease susceptibility and other traits. Thus, although we must suffer our burden as the genetically weaker sex, we may yet have some unique traits to salve our wounded senses of self-worth.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Some clarification

      I've also heard it suggested that not having a "backup gene" on the X allows beneficial mutations to occur more easily in men than women, as there's no second alelle counteracting its effect. This normally crops up in discussions of intelligence, since "intelligence-related" disabilities are sex-linked and more prevalent in men, and therefore it seems likely the reverse could be true, if we had a reliable way to measure intelligence.

      But even if it is true, that would only mean men display greater variability in intelligence, not that men can be any more intelligence than women. (It would also prevent intelligence passing from the father to the son, which might explain a few things.)

      1. Scroticus Canis
        Facepalm

        Re: Some clarification @Brewster's Angle Grinder

        Bit of a fallacious argument implying the genetic intelligence ability is only linked to the X chromosome; Down's Syndrome is normally caused by a single damaged chromosome at position 21 not 23. The degree of this affliction is dependant upon the degree of damage. If two damaged 21s are combined the foetus is normally not viable. Of course you may not agree that Down's Syndrome is "intelligence-related".

        The fact that two X chromosomes are available does not mean they have co-effective roles in a tissue's gene expression as the non-used X is coiled as the Bar Body and can't be transcribed by mRNA. Also female expression of the X chromosome is chimeric in that one organ (liver say) may use one X while another organ (lungs) uses the other X, not possible for males.

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          Re: Some clarification @Brewster's Angle Grinder

          @Scroticus Canis

          I didn't mean to imply intelligence is "only linked to the X chromosome". I apologise for any misphrasing or lack of caveats that led to that conclusion.

          See above reply about expression of X chromosomes and a few more caveats. Also Wikipedia on liver cells, "Also, if one X-chromosome has a mutation hindering its growth or rendering it non viable, cells which randomly inactivated that X will have a selective advantage over cells which randomly inactivated the normal allele. Thus...cells that inactivate a normal allele (leaving the mutated allele active) will eventually be overgrown and replaced by functionally normal cells in which nearly all have the same X-chromosome activated."

    2. Jesrad

      Re: Some clarification

      Lyonisation ensures only one of the two Xs is enabled in each cell in women, so the supposed genetic superiority you allude to is very relative. Women have more bulk genetic data (volume) but less genetic diversity (number of genes) since most of the extra DNA is redundant to begin with, whereas the NRY genes on the Y chromosome hold genetic code that is nowhere to be found in any X.

      Also, there's a misunderstanding about the evolution of the Y chromosome: as reported in Wikipedia, "with a 30% difference between humans and chimpanzees, the Y chromosome is one of the fastest evolving parts of the human genome". So, no, sorry ladies, men are actually further from chimps than women themselves are. What has had little evolution over the last 25 million years is the structure and gene composition of this chromosome, a proof of its remarkable stability and the reason why this genetic study is interesting news, even though the content of those genes evolved faster than any other piece of DNA we have.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Some clarification

        I consider my 'Y' gene to be the turbo on my 'X' gene engine.

        It makes things go a lot faster, but can be unreliable and prone to blowing up if overused.

        1. Ogi
          Happy

          Re: Some clarification

          > I consider my 'Y' gene to be the turbo on my 'X' gene engine.

          > It makes things go a lot faster, but can be unreliable and prone to blowing up if overused.

          And as time goes on, I suspect more and more, that part of the Y chromosome codes for "the ability to make a car analogy out of anything".

      2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: Some clarification

        My post should have read "mutations to be expressed" not "mutations to occur".

        @Jesrad, Lyonisation doesn't accurately predict the prevalence of sex linked conditions. To quote wikipedia "...25% of genes on the inactivated X chromosome remain expressed, thus providing women with added protection against defective genes coded by the X-chromosome."

        Even, without that, a man would end up with 100% of nerve cells expressing the beneficial allele, while a woman would end up with 50%.

        I would still expect beneficial mutations to be rarer than harmful mutations. And anyway intelligence is a complicated phenomena, that comes in many forms, involving many genes, events that happen in the womb, upbringing, etc...

    3. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Some clarification

      There is also the issue that what is traditionally referred to as "junk" in the DNA is in reality not junk and is critical. As a result comparing a "few" marker genes in no way is a complete comparison of species - it's a starting point though. The actions controlled by this "junk" are very interlinked, resilient and there are clearly documented cases where different arrangements of this "junk" trigger the same end result.

    4. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Some clarification

      " Thus, although we must suffer our burden as the genetically weaker sex, we may yet have some unique traits to salve our wounded senses of self-worth."

      Speak for yourself - if my genetic "inferiority" means I'm much stronger and more robust than your average woman, don't have to suffer periods every month and am much less likely to get migraines, oesteoporosis & a dozen other medical conditions that women get more than men then I'm quite happy being inferior.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Women are more important for the survival of a population

        Were a fair proportion of young men to get themselves killed, the surviving men would be able to assume their reproductive 'duties'in their place. i.e the population as a whole is more tolerant of a loss of men than it is of women.

        This might be why men, and young men in particular, are likely to commit reckless acts, be it extreme sports, criminal acts, reckless driving or risky activities in a more 'noble cause' such as military service or exploration. There are far more men in prison than women. There are more men mentioned in The Darwin Awards.

        Men are disproportionately represented at the other extreme, too (though factors beyond intelligence, such as work/life balance, play a large part in why there are more male than female Nobel Laureates, or chess grandmasters or whatever). Whilst men and women have an average the same I.Q (not a perfect assessment, it is true) the standard deviation from the mean is greater in men. The resilience of a population as a whole is more tolerant of very stupid men (who may well get themselves killed by trying to eat a bear, or by stealing copper from a high-voltage sub-station) than it is of very stupid women (who are rare).

        Of course, this is just statistics about groups, and should never be used to presume anything about the abilities of any one individual. "Test, don't guess".

        In fact, I can't think of a single skill or attribute I possess that I haven't seen done better by a female I have know personally, though my mechanical skills are better than most (but not all) females I know.

        1. boltar Silver badge

          Re: Women are more important for the survival of a population

          "In fact, I can't think of a single skill or attribute I possess that I haven't seen done better by a female I have know personally, though my mechanical skills are better than most (but not all) females I know."

          Get those female friends of yours down the gym and see who can lift the most. Unless you're the archetypal 7 stone weakling you'll breeze it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Women are more important for the survival of a population -@boltar

            As H G Wells pointed out a long time ago, being bigger and stronger really started to cease to matter once the machine gun was invented. It's only superiority if you consider the ability to beat up people smaller than you to be desirable.

            There were probably women around at the time bigger and stronger than both Nelson and Napoleon.

            1. boltar Silver badge

              Re: Women are more important for the survival of a population -@boltar

              "As H G Wells pointed out a long time ago, being bigger and stronger really started to cease to matter once the machine gun was invented. It's only superiority if you consider the ability to beat up people smaller than you to be desirable."

              The strength is irrelevant arguments usually come from the sort of scrawny wuss who can barely lift his briefcase and disappears when he turns sideways. Sure, it doesn't matter in day to day life , but very occasionally - along with any martial arts skills you may know - it proves its worth. Also , you tend to get less hassle on the street and in the workplace if you look somewhat intimidating. Now I'm sure in your societal nirvana everyone skips happily down the street together hand in hand singing songs about inclusivity, but the real world isn't like that and probably never will be.

              1. Dave 126 Silver badge

                Re: Women are more important for the survival of a population -@boltar

                >Get those female friends of yours down the gym and see who can lift the most. Unless you're the archetypal 7 stone weakling you'll breeze it.

                I'm strong enough thanks (not all of my work involves IT) and physically stronger than most, but not all of, my female acquaintances. Some of them are in the military, some are rowers or rugby players. Which was kind of my point- individual humans can always defy expectations.

                1. boltar Silver badge

                  Re: Women are more important for the survival of a population -@boltar

                  "I'm strong enough thanks (not all of my work involves IT) and physically stronger than most, but not all of, my female acquaintances. Some of them are in the military, some are rowers or rugby players"

                  Having trained for getting on 25 years I've met plenty of so called "strong" women in gyms. Frankly I wouldn't call many of them particularly strong - some of them could perhaps arm wrestle an averagely fit man to a draw but thats about it. Obviously you do get the ones who've been pumping steroids for years and can bench 150kg but they're hardly representative.

            2. MJI Silver badge

              Re: Women are more important for the survival of a population - Arnaut

              There were probably women around at the time bigger and stronger than both Nelson and Napoleon.

              Well since Napoleon was a dwarf................

          2. John Savard Silver badge

            Re: Women are more important for the survival of a population

            He just has to know one female bodybuilder for him to be allowed to be an average male.

        2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

          Re: Women are more important for the survival of a population

          Makes sense. Evolution supposes that all (most?) women will be involved in reproduction. The men will be sorted out into alphas and betas. So by introducing genetic variances into the male population, its easier to test the bad ones out.

          "Get those female friends of yours down the gym and see who can lift the most. Unless you're the archetypal 7 stone weakling you'll breeze it."

          This places members of this gender into the "testing out" process. The strongest will be the ones to step out of the cave and defend the clan against the saber-toothed tiger. In one scenario, only the strongest survive to return. In another, the weak stay behind. The strong become tiger food while the weak hang around the cave, reinforcing a genetic reversion to the mean.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Some clarification

        On the other hand you are more likely to suffer mental illness, have a shorter life expectancy, and are more likely to be lonely in old age if you survive that long. Also, if you are born into a given culture, you may have to attend football matches.

        It used to really suck to be female (unless you were Catherine the Great, in which case it was...well, great) but in the 21st century, except in the backward tribal areas (Essex, Saudi Arabia for a start) it's now much more balanced.

        1. GreyWolf

          Essex females @ Arnaut the less

          If you really think that in Essex, females are now or ever have been unable to dominate, or are as oppressed as elsewhere in the world, I challenge you to say that out loud in Basildon on a Saturday night. I promise to give your remains a decent burial.

          If you are not up for being the object of a blood sport, read about Boudicca (whose influence extended over most of East Angular).

          1. All names Taken
            Pint

            Re: Essex females @ Arnaut the less

            If you really think that in Essex, females are now or ever have been unable to dominate, or are as oppressed as elsewhere in the world, I challenge you to say that out loud in Basildon on a Saturday night. I promise to give your remains a decent burial.

            Hmmm, I wonder who would come of best 'tween a lass from Yorkshire and a belle from Essex?

            It could be worth betting a pint or two on?

      3. MondoMan
        Devil

        Re: Some clarification @boltar

        Not all of us are missing cheeks; my tongue fits nicely in mine.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Some clarification MondoMan

          Not all of us are missing cheeks; my tongue fits nicely in mine.

          Bum cheek?

    5. Marshalltown

      Re: Some clarification

      It could be argued that the requirement that males carry only a single X means that a much stronger filtering of disadvantageous traits on the X takes place in males. Both recessive and dominant traits on the X are expressed in males, meaning that any that are significantly disadvantageous or lethal are culled pretty aggressively by selective processes. This would moderate the effects of such genes in both males and females. The surviving genes on the Y are in fact critical to the species - well the whole class Mammalia - otherwise there would be a great deal more variation.

      The XY pairing is an adaptive scheme that specifically, selectively modifies gene frequencies on the X by isolating and exposing both dominant and recessive traits to selective effects. This would be far more efficient than working through XX pairings where recessive traits are potentially masked by dominant. In fact it closely parallels the experimental method. Nature's laboratory so to speak.

    6. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: Some clarification

      One man's "weakness" is another man's "strength".

      With one X chromosome, if something goes wrong, then it's the end of the line. With 2, then the second will hopefully still have a working gene in it. But what then? Having a Y chromosome might give another option of redundancy in function to "pick up the slack" so to speak.

      That's before confirming that having 2 X chromosomes helps survival, but having 1 means your "checking" that at least 1 of those is still fully functional. If a single X chromosome never existed on it's own (well, almost as you've mentioned the Y has some or more functionality its self), then there would be risk of an X chromosome loosing function through a lack of necessity in keeping all it's genes. Would that not be so?

  12. Chris G Silver badge

    Lean and mean

    It seems apparent that rather than some ancient devastation occurring to the Y chromosome that nature has simply discarded any unnecessary genes and retained only those required to get the job done.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lean and mean

      I know you're not being literal but please let's remind ourselves that "nature" is an 18th/19th century concept that we 21st century people have discarded as an explanatory agent, a God substitute for people who were aware that "God did it" was a terrible explanation but were still working out what was actually happening.

      Basically, embryos with various bits of the Y missing were viable; those with defects in other chromosomes weren't. So, over a sufficient period, non-working genes would be lost. They are presumably missing from other chromosomes too, but we don't notice (for instance, mammalian colour vision, which was partly lost during the nocturnal phase, still isn't as good as avian or reptilian colour vision. We've lost those genes too, but we haven't really noticed.) No agent is needed to explain Y-chromosome decay other than viability.

    2. JohnMurray

      Re: Lean and mean

      ¨It seems apparent that rather than some ancient devastation occurring to the Y chromosome that nature has simply discarded any unnecessary genes and retained only those required to get the job done¨

      Yep; a man gene thing....

  13. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Pint

    Shave and get drunk...

    ... because we're already brilliant.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85HT4Om6JT4

  14. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Happy

    Genetic elite!

    Just like every living organism today! After all, we are all the product of an unbroken line (or actually, massive numbers of twisting interwoven lines *) of survivors reaching back until the first organisms.

    Comforting thought, I always find

    * Makes a squadron of Arcturan stunt apples look tame

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Genetic elite!

      >Comforting thought, I always find

      Agreed. We the products of filtered luck!

  15. Sander van der Wal
    Thumb Up

    Birds having different genes to determine males and females, does that mean that males and females evolved separately in dinosaurs and mammals? I would presume that the fishes and amphibians had already sorted that out, so why the difference?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Sander van der Wal

      Ssh! You've just presented the Creationists with one of their apparently-convincing-argument-from-inadequate-scientific-knowledge arguments. Let's try to kill it quick before people wake up in Kansas.

      1. In fish, the sex-determining role of the chomosomes is sufficiently fluid that some species may undergo a sex change based on water temperature. The difference in the sex chromosomes is small. I think we can assume that this applied, even more strongly, to fish from a few My ago.

      2. "Dinosaurs" isn't really a single group. The split in the way the chromosomes operated could be deep in the past (I don't know, I'm not an expert), which means that the "mammalian" system may well apply to some "dinosaur" lines that were mammalian ancestors and the "avian" system may apply to others. Both have had plenty of time to evolve.

      The oldest fossil DNA I'm aware of only dates back about 130My, well after the appearance of the dinosaurs, and then only for weevils, so obviously the history of chromosomes can't reliably be known beyond that point.

      1. All names Taken
        Paris Hilton

        Re: @Sander van der Wal

        1. In fish, the sex-determining role of the chomosomes is sufficiently fluid that some species may undergo a sex change based on water temperature. The difference in the sex chromosomes is small. I think we can assume that this applied, even more strongly, to fish from a few My ago.

        Too much fizzy cider mate - try the still stuff instead?

      2. MondoMan

        Re: @Arnaut

        "The oldest fossil DNA I'm aware of only dates back about 130My, well after the appearance of the dinosaurs, and then only for weevils, so obviously the history of chromosomes can't reliably be known beyond that point."

        Actually, given a lot of descendents from different branches of the evo tree, we can infer what was in the common ancestor's genome, more or less. If you make assumptions about rates of base sequence change, you can even make date guesstimates.

      3. TechnicalBen Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: @ Arnaut the less

        "Ssh! You've just presented the Creationists with one of their apparently-convincing-argument-from-inadequate-scientific-knowledge arguments."

        Careful. There is very much a difference between "argument against giving a conclusion that is in opposition to the currently available facts" and "arguing from lack of evidence".

        A lot of sides, a lot of self motivated people and a lot of mistakes come from arguing from a lack of evidence. So looking at the evidence, and not speculation, is the best answer. Note you point 1) is a much stronger evidence based example, and your point 2) is actually an argument from lack of evidence... Oops! (But no worries, I note your well intentioned, so probably just a simple explanation that skipped the meat :) )

  16. Steve Crook
    Joke

    "They've been selected and purified over time."

    Just like a premium larger. Cor, I'm so proud....

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: "They've been selected and purified over time."

      Well, the artificial selection of quickly evolving yeasts is central to development of 'premium' lagers, and required a degree of scientific understanding to achieve. See Louis Pasteur, and why he wouldn't have his books translated into German.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Junk" DNA

    I suspect that what scientists call junk DNA is actually some form of error detection/correction mechanism. Like a checksum.

    Do I get points for mentioning Hamming distance ?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: "Junk" DNA

      Or it could just be cryptic and unreadble comments on the code...

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: "Junk" DNA

        "Or it could just be cryptic and unreadble comments on the code..."

        That would be so funny :D

        #Gene Sequence #307

        begin sequence 307

        #stuff some code in here to activate common sense. I've got 20 to write today and Brian wants to play a round of mega-golf later on - time for a quick fix and I'll come back to it later..Bob.

        end sequence

        Celestial Update: In a shocking turn of events Bob was struck by Brian with a golf club after a disagreement around a Hole in 0. Brian has been sent to Earth for penance while Bob is being re-realised by the almighty. Expect him back in a few thousand years. In the mean-time, all work done by Bob will be put on hold until his return.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. old man

      Re: "Junk" DNA

      Often wondered about so called junk dna. I can just see some scientists in the future coming across a pile of punched ticker tape or tabulator cards and trying to extract data from the holes. Cutting up the tape and cards to shorter lengths and putting in different machines to process faster wouldn't help . And yet this is what is done with chromosomes. I find it hard to believe that evolution would waste so much time and energy on junk dna if that's all it was. Maybe including so called junk dna in the mix will reduce the similarity between man and a banana from the present stated 80% the same

    4. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: "Junk" DNA

      Actually, AFAIK it's mostly regulation data. Error checking IS already done on DNA (even at the time of copy, look it up, these things are amazing).

      The previously refereed to as "junk DNA" (though not by all, it's a term strongly contested, and may only be a media term, not scientific), has been found to be involved in expression and regulation of Genes. Though I'll admit I've not read into how much so, and if it's a consensus yet.

  18. Scroticus Canis

    Y chromosomes don't change much.

    Y chromosomes do not change much if at all from one generation to the next and are actually very stable. This fact has been used in several genetic studies tracing ancestry via the male lines and has shown some 8% percent of the Asiatic males have the same Y chromosome as Genghis Khan; apparently the males in his family (before and after him) put it about a bit.

  19. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    I was going to say that women are the weaker sex but then I went to Yorkshire?

  20. A J Stiles

    But .....

    It's already possible to produce baby mice by using genetic material taken from a female mouse to fertilise a mouse egg. Humans aren't sufficiently different from mice for the same technique not to Just Work, if tried in humans -- the only thing standing in the way, is those pesky ethics boards.

    So, we could still see an all-women society -- and I'm not even sure that would be such a bad thing.

    (Before any insecure men downvote me, I am absolutely not suggesting that any of you need die of anything but old age to bring this about.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But .....

      But who would get rid of spiders for you?

      There is nothing to fear but fear itself...........and spiders.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But .....

      An all-female society.

      I recall someone arguing that the problem with an all-female society is that the laziness gene is found almost exclusively on the Y chromosome. It's the laziness gene that results in technological progress, as in "I can't be arsed to run after food animals, I'm going to invent the bow and arrow", "I can't be arsed to walk, I'm going to invent the horse and cart" and so on, right up to "I can't be arsed to dig coal out of the ground, I'm going to invent the nuclear reactor".

      A society run by woman would be very labour intensive, which means that they wouldn't have time or energy to make the hot lesbian sex videos that are what most men believe would be the best thing about an all female society.

  21. Jim McCafferty

    One gene?

    OK - so there's one gene which determines whether you're male or female. It's a very selective interpretation that says men own this gene - and women have exclusive access to the others? Surely it's the resultant combination of all the genes that defines us.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One gene?

      Apparently there's one gene in some fish, but then there's other genes that probably control how it gets expressed. So yes, if you want to feel superior because you own the sex controlling gene - be a female fish.

      If you're a primate it is, as you suggest, quite a bit more complicated than that.

  22. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    It 's all heretical nonsense

    Clearly the only possible true explanation is that there was an X in Man and God broke off a bit of it to make the Woman and so the Man was left with a Y.

    What is that "evolution" everyone is talking about? Surely, 6000 years would not have been enough for any "evolution".

  23. MondoMan
    WTF?

    I'm surprised no one has made an "X Men" joke

    Even X Men need bodies, just like this post.

  24. S 11
    Angel

    I read somewhere ("Mapping Human History [2002]?") that the genders were created about the time that our cells learned to use oxygen to produce energy, and that the DNA for that likely fell to Earth on a meteorite.

    Sometimes the opposite gender behaves as if they were another species entirely. Am I wrong?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So make sure you pay full attention to men's bits, particularly when they drop off.

    Reminds me of the excellent song "Detatchable Penis" (You google it, I'm at work)

  26. All names Taken
    Happy

    Re: But .....

    I recall someone arguing that the problem with an all-female society is that the laziness gene is found almost exclusively on the Y chromosome. It's the laziness gene that results in technological progress, as in "I can't be arsed to run after food animals, I'm going to invent the bow and arrow", "I can't be arsed to walk, I'm going to invent the horse and cart" and so on, right up to "I can't be arsed to dig coal out of the ground, I'm going to invent the nuclear reactor".

    As far as empirical evidence on that goes I am quite willing to be subject to testing for the laziness gene and totally buy Laziness Theory plus its gender related aspect is probably easily demonstrated but I can't be bothered.

    And look at Gauss - fed up with his school teachers rejection by asking him to add up the first so many integers it was far more interesting to create/discover a formula and do it like that.

    I bet Gauss would love the 21st C but would he rather prefer a life on the dole to working all days and hours in research?

  27. Frogmelon

    "Darling, pass me the red ochre will you?"

    "That's it! I warned you before! You've ALWAYS got to be the one with the red ochre in his hand.

    I turn away to make sure the kids are ok, and then when I look back you've jumped up and drawn another antelope, or a mammoth.

    I wish you'd just make up your mind and put the red ochre down on the stone where it belongs!"

  28. All names Taken
    Angel

    OT but interesting?

    Remember the feature about how to say mutts nuts in French?

    Would

    boules des arf-arf

    or even

    boules des woof-woof

    be acceptable as late entries?

  29. AltesSchlachtross

    Meine Zwei Pfennige

    Most of the reasoning is actually quite silly. Men and women are obviously complementary and mating serves to improve the speed of evolution:

    Intelligent man mates intelligent women, even more intelligent (read: more dominating in the competition for food with those tigers and wolves) child if made. Or: "strong muscle mates with intelligence", as intel+muscle is required to compete against these extra-sized snakes.

    In the endeavour of "rational reasoing" it is always very bad to let yourself be influenced by idealist ideology.

    For example, it is quite obvious that men, on average" are more interested in machinery, physics and violence than women. I venture to say this is a genetic thing and it is easy to explain why: Men who instinctively know physics are more likely to hit prey with their spear. That means they can better feed their family and offspring is more likely to survive.

    Women, on the other hand are lactating, which means they need to be close to the baby every two hours or so. Naturally, women are on average more competent in handling kids.

    So if people stopped to confuse nature with idealist stuff, they might suffer from a smaller number of idealist "disappointments".

  30. John H Woods

    I've got two ...

    ... and it was slightly weird finding out one is XYY whilst looking down a microscope in one's undergraduate Genetics class ...

  31. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    "...Y [chromosome] contains just 19 of the 600 genes it once shared with the X..."

    Entirely expected result.

    I have shed several hundred trivial but useful skills I had as a bachelor - mostly having to do with locating sneakers, keys, wallets and important letters from the government - because I found out that if I stand in the middle of the living room looking blank the missus will do whatever it is for me.

    For once, "scientists" have proved something useful, if obvious.

  32. thisisahandle

    WOMEN are less

    Actually, women have way LESS genes ...

    since one for their X-chromosomes is inactive and basically a useless lump.

    Men have way more genes.

    Actually u could reproduce men and women from a man's cromosomes

    but only women from a woman's

    ( and sure noone would want THAT ... not even women xD )

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: WOMEN are less

      "and sure noone would want THAT ... not even women xD"

      What that great Polish movie - Sexmission - for answers to that :-)

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