Genetic Battle of the Sexes
A fascinating science article by Paul Raeburn at Discovery Magazine.
When David Haig finished college in Australia with a degree in biology, he found a job in a New South Wales government office rubber-stamping documents to record mortgage tax payments and property transfers. His tour in the bureaucracy lasted two years. “I decided there was more to life than rubber stamps,” he says, reminiscing in his office at Harvard University’s Botanical Museum. Haig returned to his biology studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, earning his doctorate in 1989.
While he was there, he became absorbed in the study of an unsolved problem in evolutionary biology. Researchers were learning that the process of conceiving a child is not nearly the tender, rhapsodic intertwining of the mother’s and father’s genes that one might imagine. Instead, it’s the start of a survival-of-the-fittest struggle that begins inside a fertilized egg and continues throughout pregnancy.
Natural selection usually had been thought of as a competition among species in the wild. Now it appeared that natural selection was operating within each fertilized human egg, as each parent’s DNA competed for control of the developing offspring, each with a different evolutionary goal.