All Hail the Royal Heir

July 22, 2013

Torah Kachur

Congrats to you William and Kate, it is definitely worldwide news when a person I don't know manages to successfully birth a baby.  Not that 370,000 other babies weren't born today.


In all seriousness, it would be somewhat intimidating to know that the entire world heard about your labour.  Kate, you are commended.  And, in the words of a ridiculously archaic CNN reporter - you are 'brilliant' to have given birth to a baby boy.  A boy!


Sex determination, as most people know, is something pretty straightforward - if you get a Y chromosome from dad, you're a son.  Henry VIII should have beheaded himself.  Except, it's not that simple when you look at the world of nature.  In humans, we have an XY system, same as flies and other creatures. 


But worms like the nematode C. elegans have an XO system where having one X chromosome makes a male and being XX makes a female.  And it gets even weirder, two of the closest cousins to C. elegans are C. briggsae and C. remaneii where C. briggsae is a hermaphrodite/male species like C. elegans but C. remanii is actually more closely related to C. elegans and is yet a male/female species.  What all this means is that it is pretty easy to switch from male/female species to a male/hermaphrodite sexual lifestyle.  In other words, getting rid of males is pretty darn easy.  Ladies, there is hope for us yet!


nematode sex determination torah kachur


The evolution of sex has even given rise to temperature dependent sexual determination like in alligators where hot nests give rise to males.  No word on whether those are hot males in the alligator world though.


Just when we thought that the royals had all the fun, we realize having a baby boy is pretty boring.




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