The Corner

Apt For St Valentine’s Day

Many biologically literate readers have pointed out that I omitted a big one

in my post yesterday about gaps & conundrums in standard-model evolution

theory. The one I missed was SEX — that is to say, the phenomenon of

sexual reproduction. It is hard to explain in terms of the standard model.

Asexual reproduction is more efficient and parsimonious. It’s not that

biologists are stumped by this: there are several excellent theories. We

just don’t know which one (if any) is correct. The most popular theory says

that shuffling genetic code between two partners gives you better odds in

the endless biological arms race to outwit fast-mutating disease agents.

Still, for evolutionists, as for observers of the British royal family, sex

is a bit of a mystery.

(When this topic comes up, I always think of a hilarious multi-page comic

strip story in the old National Lampoon about a planet where the dominant

species has twelve sexes, all of which are required for satisfactory mating.

In the strip, a young Alpha leaves his apartment for a night on the town.

First he cruises the Beta bars till he makes a pickup. Then off they go

looking for a Gamma… It’s a long night. If anyone can find this strip on

the web, I’d be much obliged. Can’t even recall the name of the artist.)


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