I’m not a big science person — if anything, I’m a social science nerd — but this Gizmodo post intrigued me. The snark in the Gawker media family gets tiresome, but every now and then, they have a good find:
For a long time, biologists have predicted that the Y chromosome—the DNA that makes men men—was gradually dying out, and that it would eventually lead to the extiniction of the male of the species. Fortunately, a team of researchers has proven that isn’t the case.
It used to be, a long time ago, that the X and Y chromosomes were the same size and shape. Then, about 166 million years ago, a huge chunk of the Y chromosome was turned upside down and reinserted. Nobody quite knows why. Since, the Y chromosome has lost 781 of the 800 genes it originally shared with the X chromosome, all thanks to mutation. It’s this which led to speculation that it would eventually disappear.
But according to research from the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that’s not the case. A team of researchers has compared the human Y chromosome to that of the rhesus macaque – a primate that diverged from humans around 25 million years ago. The monkey’s Y chromosome contains just 20 genes, and 19 of them are identical to those of the human Y.
Phew! What a relief. Dear dudes: Do not become extinct. That is not what we want. This is just a note to your DNA, apparently.