Have Sex To Stay One Evolutionary Step Ahead, or, Why men are useful
Scientists have finally demonstrated that sex is useful.
A team from Indiana University found that worms that have sex were better able than asexual worms to stay one evolutionary step ahead of dangerous parasites.
The finding, published in the journal Science, provides the first direct evidence that sexual reproduction improves a species’ ability to survive in a fast-changing environment. And it suggests that parasites, including bacteria and viruses, are one reason species developed sexual reproduction in the first place.
The results explain “one of the long-standing mysteries in evolutionary biology, one that we’ve been banging our heads against for 30 years,” says Michael Brockhurst from the University of Liverpool in the U.K.
Brockhurst says previous studies found plenty of circumstantial evidence that sexual reproduction provided an evolutionary edge. But he says this is the first experiment showing the process at work in a lab animal.
Scientists say sex has been a mystery because it doesn’t make much sense, from a biological perspective.