In the beginning, mannishness starts with a pairing of the robust X, or female, chromosome with the considerably smaller and more simplistic Y, or male, chromosome. The Y chromosome is a mutation of the X chromosome and its’ evolutionary history is one of gradual loss of genetic material and decay.
If the path of the Y chromosome is one of degradation, then how long before men (as we know them) genetically disappear? Estimates tend to vary from next Tuesday to never. In 2011, at the 18th International Chromosome Conference, the possible loss of the Y chromosome was debated. The argument for the eventual loss of the Y chromosome was compelling and focused on, among other things, the easily damaged environment in which transferrable copies of the Y chromosome are generated — the testicles. This, coupled with the fact that some mammals have already lost the Y chromosome, painted a not very rosy picture for the future of men.
Because of the public availability of the debate and deliciousness of the topic, this presentation received significant media attention. Yet, perhaps the most interesting and less reported aspect of this debate was what happened at its conclusion. And, here at Man Science, we always read the original source materials and never rely solely on regurgitated media blurbs.
At the end of the debate, a vote was held on the likelihood that the Y chromosome would eventually disappear. Two-thirds of the female geneticists in attendance felt that the Y chromosome’s days were numbered. Two-thirds of the male geneticists in attendance, however, felt that the Y chromosome still had a lot of juice left in its tank.
It would appear that no matter what your training or academic background may be, men and women usually vote with their chromosomes and not often against them.
- Griffin, D. K. (2012). Is the Y chromosome disappearing? Both sides of the argument. Chromosome Research, 20, 35-45.