Musings on Evolution and Sex

I cannot tell you why I started thinking about evolution and sex this morning while I was doing my morning meditation. I don’t recall reading any news stories about evolution lately, and I don’t often think about science subjects on my own. My interests lie more along the personal growth, creativity, and spiritual lines.

I don’t know if anyone else uses this method of learning, but sometimes I accept that something will work a certain way so so that I can understand a larger concept. In this case, I accepted the mechanism of how genetic variations interplay with an environment to determine which species survive to pass along their genes.

I accepted that we humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor. But the differences now between us and chimpanzees are great, even though we share 99% or so of genetic material. That last 1% is the crucial difference that set us apart and set us on a different path millions of years ago.

So how does that happen? I began thinking about sex and reproduction as the mechanism by which mammals continue their family lines. The process had to be excruciatingly slow for things to diverge so widely in this present day. A quick change makes no sense to my mind.

I’m guessing that, over millions and millions of years, we began to be selected for traits that we had. These traits some of our chimpanzees did not have. Somehow, some proto-people began not having sex with some of their similar, but not the same, cohorts.

The lines that eventually became modern-day chimpanzees and humans cohabited some of the same land, but went their own ways sexually and genetically. Were they separated for a time and then, when they shared the same space again, were so different from each other that there was no chance of the two mixing?

I don’t know. I doubt if scientists know, but I don’t keep up with what scientists do or do not know. I get my evolution education in drips and drabs, and I’m just fine with that. I’m waiting for the day when we have the links – if that’s even possible – so that scientists can weave an actual story of how humans and chimpanzees, once part of the same genetic line, somehow went their own separate ways.

 

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6 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed this entry! It’s funny because I was thinking about evolution and how it relates to sex even in today’s world. I hate it when I hear women asking why they’re still single and blaming themselves for “not being desirable” when it’s not really anyone’s fault- evolutionarily men and women just had different priorities.
    Sorry to be ranting! Your post just got me thinking. But if you’d like to read a little more about the topic then please feel free to drop by and read the entry on my blog! I’d love to get your thoughts 🙂

    https://relationshipsprincess.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/why-are-you-still-single/

  2. Wendy,
    Richard Dawkins’ books (particularly the earlier ones) cover this pretty entertainingly (IIRC) without getting too deep into the technical aspects if you want to pick one of them up at the library (Selfish Gene, Extended Phenotype, Blind Watchmaker). His ability to communicate evolution unfortunately also made him a target for anti-evolution types, which he then responded to by being ever more anti-religious, so it sounds like each of his later books became more and more combative. Sadly now the whole topic is poisoned by being part of the “culture wars”, which makes it harder to find non-technical discussions that aren’t trying to fight that war.
    -john

  3. Hi, John! Thank you for your comment. I love getting comments !:D I’ve done my best to educate myself on science topics to the extent that my interest and understanding allows. I’m familiar with Dawkins and have Selfish Gene & Blind Watchmaker on my shelves. I read at least one many years ago, but I have other more interesting (to me) items that I would rather read. I think I just spontaneoulsy got that the genetic changes must come about very, very slowly. So slow that the individuals or generations involved might not even notice. I think the suddenness of the understanding blew my mind open. I love that experience! I understand the anti-religion sentiment, although I don’t completley embrace that point of view. Thank you again for your comments!

  4. Hi, Caitlin! Thank you for your comment. I find it interesting that what I think of as a big picture evolution post brought your mind to think about the individuals involved in the sexual transaction. Men & women have different traits, that’s for sure, but at least they are not so great as to prevent reproduction (that’s for sure!) In our modern world, we have a lot of criteria for finding a mate. We impose things like having a job, income level, religious beliefs, etc. to finding the right mate that are substitutions for finding the “right” mate, from an evolution point of view. I will take a look at your blog.

  5. Hey, Wendy! Thanks for stopping by, and for the comment! But I completely agree with you, there are a ton of extra factors that go into choosing partners. Hopefully in the next few days I will be blogging about an extremely interesting and enlightening social experiment that was conducted in order to shed some light on what men and women tend to look for in ideal partners! I think you’ll enjoy it! It was a fun experiment 🙂
    Thanks again for coming by my blog, and have a great day!

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