Why is 2 sexes so common in nature?

  • #1
Another God
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Main Question or Discussion Point

This question isn't as obvious as it first seems. Think about it a bit: Why do we have 2 sexes?
 

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  • #2
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Because additional sexes will be too complicated, requiring the action of several individuals that is too unreliable and brings too little a benefit.

Because two sexes allow more capability for adaptation than one.
 
  • #3
Another God
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Originally posted by FZ+
Because additional sexes will be too complicated, requiring the action of several individuals that is too unreliable and brings too little a benefit.
Having 3 sexes doesn't mean u require 3 individuals to participate in reproduction. It just means that sex a can mate with eitehr sex B or sex C. Actually giving each individual more options.


Because two sexes allow more capability for adaptation than one.
You don't need sexes for gene swapping and recombination. You can have asexual mating.
 
  • #4
iansmith
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Originally posted by Another God
Why do we have 2 sexes?
Why should be more necessary? 2 is enough and it does the job

Originally posted by Another God
You don't need sexes for gene swapping and recombination. You can have asexual mating.
Gene swapping is not so easy and efficient for many metazoan.
 
  • #5
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But why have 2 sexes? Why do metazoan have so much difficulty in gene swapping? Why not have diploids which require to mate before reproduction, but have it so that any other member of the species is a potential partner?

The cost of sex is incredibly large if you think about it. In an evolutionary sense, to have two sexes, you need to have two individuals survive to reproductive age, eating x amount of food each etc, just so that one of them can have offspring. It would be twice as efficient (and twice as efficient in evolutionary terms is astronomical) if individuals could mate with anyone, and for every mating event, they literally swapped gametes with each other, getting both of them 'pregnant' (in whatever form that may be).

I know of a couple of reasons why sexes may have evolved, but I just want to see if there are other reasons out there, or if there is reason to ignore this percieved problem.
 
  • #6
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It would be twice as efficient (and twice as efficient in evolutionary terms is astronomical) if individuals could mate with anyone, and for every mating event, they literally swapped gametes with each other, getting both of them 'pregnant' (in whatever form that may be).
It's not necessarily a good thing to have both partners tied up with a pregnancy, which consumes more resources, often makes one more vulnerable, etc. (I also don't agree that "twice as efficient" is "astronomical" in evolutionary terms, even accepting that it is "more efficient" at all.) And sexual dimorphism can be useful: it in effect turns one species into two specialized, cooperating subspecies.
 
  • #7
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First thing to do, is to stop thinking in terms of humans. Humans are at the end of a very very long process of refining the 2 sex system, where we are very specialised in our roles. Take it back to the begining, back when 'pregnancy' didn't really exist. Think of creatures who form a zygote, and then the zygote grows of its own accord, free from requiring care from the parents. Plenty of organisms can do this, so an argument claiming that too much effort is required if both organisms are 'pregnant' or both will need to take care of young isn't such a good argument. both individuals may be fertilized, both may lay an egg, or drop a seed, or divide (whatever the scenario), and both may carry on with their lives as if nothing happened.

I say that twice as effective is astronomical, becuase when u study evolutionary theories (Quantitative genetics, mutation rates, selective pressures etc) you quickly realise that slight advantages become very large very quickly (in evolutionary sense.) So a situation where one species has the ability to have twice as many offspring as a competing species is literally astronomical.

The Dimorphism is a good point. There is in fact a species of Octopus which has a 2m long female, and a 2cm long male. Quite obviously these two sexes don't directly compete with each other, so it would be much easier to support the populations. (Each species' biggest threat comes from its own species since they are all competing for exactly the same resources. Having half of the species different, is an advantage.)
 
  • #8
Asexual mating is unproductive beacuase adaptation, and evolution is harder, also the possibility to grow larger is neerly impossible. Having two sexes allows for natural selection to take place, selecting the best genes, and it also lets us evolve fast in certain situations like in a bottleneck effect. Having 1 sex, carrying both sexual organs (the egg and the sperm) would be illogical, since one most have the best trait of any one sex. Some species however have the best traits of one sex, and have the other one on standby incase there are a depleted amount of males or females.
 
  • #9
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Originally posted by Innexplicable
Asexual mating is unproductive beacuase adaptation, and evolution is harder
I don't understand how it is either unproductive or how evolution is harder. What do u mean exactly by asexual mating? I mean any process whereby two diploids form haploid cells internally, then swap those haploids to form new recombined diploids... Exactly the same as sexual reproduction, but without the need to match up in an exclusive pairing system. there isn't even any need for different sexual organs.
also the possibility to grow larger is neerly impossible.
Why is that? Evolution still works as normal. 'Sexual Selection' would also still exist, but it wouldn't be male selecting females or females selecting males, it would be a population wide selection from inside. Only the most attractive individuals get mated with. Same concept, less exclusivity.


Having two sexes allows for natural selection to take place, selecting the best genes, and it also lets us evolve fast in certain situations like in a bottleneck effect. Having 1 sex, carrying both sexual organs (the egg and the sperm) would be illogical, since one most have the best trait of any one sex. Some species however have the best traits of one sex, and have the other one on standby incase there are a depleted amount of males or females.
Natural Selection takes place with one sex, two sexes, or 42 sexes. Natural Selection even takes places where there is no genetic exchange. I don't get this point either.
 
  • #10
iansmith
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Originally posted by Innexplicable
Asexual mating is unproductive beacuase adaptation, and evolution is harder
Bacterial and archea still exist and are present in some extreme enviroment. Talk about evolution problem.

Originally posted by Another God
The cost of sex is incredibly large if you think about it. In an evolutionary sense, to have two sexes, you need to have two individuals survive to reproductive age, eating x amount of food each etc, just so that one of them can have offspring.
Is the advantage outweigthing the cost in term of evolution. I think so.

Originally posted by Another God
It would be twice as efficient (and twice as efficient in evolutionary terms is astronomical) if individuals could mate with anyone, and for every mating event, they literally swapped gametes with each other, getting both of them 'pregnant' (in whatever form that may be).
I will answer by this
Originally posted by Another God
Each species' biggest threat comes from its own species since they are all competing for exactly the same resources.
Twice as efficient but could cost more than twice as much

There are still species that are hermaphrodite. Best example are snails. How good is there genetics diversity?

Also if you could mate with everyone could that create problem.
 
  • #11
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Originally posted by Another God First thing to do, is to stop thinking in terms of humans.
I'm not thinking in terms of humans.

Take it back to the begining, back when 'pregnancy' didn't really exist. Think of creatures who form a zygote, and then the zygote grows of its own accord, free from requiring care from the parents.
I didn't say anything about requiring care from parents, either.

Plenty of organisms can do this, so an argument claiming that too much effort is required if both organisms are 'pregnant' or both will need to take care of young isn't such a good argument.
Any way you cut it, reproduction has a cost in one way or another; you don't get offspring for free. If you did, everything would reproduce all the time. (Sure, that that kind of growth couldn't be sustained, but so what, if reproducing doesn't cost anything?)

So a situation where one species has the ability to have twice as many offspring as a competing species is literally astronomical.
Having the ability to have more offspring is not necessarily a good thing. Take it to the logical conclusion: why aren't all organisms designed to have thousands of offspring, like insects? It doesn't work well for everybody.

(Each species' biggest threat comes from its own species since they are all competing for exactly the same resources.
That doesn't follow. If it did, then a species would always wipe itself out before predators could. Moreover, it ignores the existence of cooperation within species.
 
  • #12
Monique
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For the question why we need sexual reproduction: only during meiosis do recombinations take place, reshuffling the genomes. On overage 40 of these recombination events during meiosis. This reshuffling adds to our genetic diversity.
 
  • #13
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And we need to shuffle to keep up with the bacteria and viruses that infect us in speed of hereitary change.
 
  • #14
Monique
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The reason that microorganisms don't need meiosis (in my opinion) is that they divide very very fast and are able to adapt to their environment much quicker than mammals do. They can take up genes from their environment and loose genes when they don't need them.

Our reproduction process is very slow on the other hand, and thus we need to overcome the static nature of reproduction.

You have got two chromosomes, each carry FG (F=faulthy,G=good). The faulty gene is always passed on, no matter what. Reshuffling during meiosis will cause the following chromosomal arrangements: FF and GG. Now, if GG gets passed on you've got more healthy offspring. FF should die before being able to reproduce.
 
  • #15
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I just noticed I overlooked the following comment by Another God:

I don't understand how it is either unproductive or how evolution is harder. What do u mean exactly by asexual mating? I mean any process whereby two diploids form haploid cells internally, then swap those haploids to form new recombined diploids... Exactly the same as sexual reproduction, but without the need to match up in an exclusive pairing system.
So asexual mating already includes meiosis.

Well, then I have got the following question/statement: Plants evolved sexual reproduction independently from animals..

Again, slow reproducing organisms. Apparently combining two different genomes gives one 'astronomically' improved odds for survival, because it adds to genetic diversity. When a disease would strike not all organisms will die (as would happen due after cloning).
 
  • #16
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Male and Female genomes are not that different. The only difference is the x and y chromosome, and that is a human only phenomenon. Some species don't bother about the Y chromosome etc. So having two sexes does not increase diversity. It increases phenotypic diversity, and that is an important point, because it can lighten the competition between the members of the same species, but it doesn't increase genetic diversity all that much at all.

I must stress though, like, really really stress, that having 2 sexes is not because of meiosis. We can have meiosis without sexes involved. We can have meiosis with 3 sexes involved, 4 sexes etc. Why make it so particular and exclusive so that if you want to mate, you have to find the one which is opposite to you? Something which happens time and time again to be only half of the total population?
Twice as efficient but could cost more than twice as much

There are still species that are hermaphrodite. Best example are snails. How good is there genetics diversity?

Also if you could mate with everyone could that create problem.
I don't understand how it could cost twice as much.

Hermaphrodites change from male to female right? If they still mate with one another, than I doubt their genetic diversity would be any different to most other animals. If they self fertilise, than that is different. I am talking about sexual reproduction happening without sexual exclusivity. Hermaphrodites almost do it...but still with some sort of exclusivity (often age dependent or male-female ratio, which is just as good as having no exclusivity).

How could being able to mate with everyone create problems??????
 
  • #17
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Originally posted by selfAdjoint
And we need to shuffle to keep up with the bacteria and viruses that infect us in speed of hereitary change.
I'll say this a few more times, because no one seems to have caught onto it yet: You don't need to have two sexes in order for meiosis => recombination to occur.

Sexual reproduction can be done without need of two exclusive sexes. Why are 2 sexes so predominant?
 
  • #18
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Originally posted by Ambitwistor
Any way you cut it, reproduction has a cost in one way or another; you don't get offspring for free. If you did, everything would reproduce all the time. (Sure, that that kind of growth couldn't be sustained, but so what, if reproducing doesn't cost anything?)
Things do try to reproduce as much as they can but don't they? It still depends on mating rituals, mate selection (is that other individual good enough for me or not? Will my offspring survive after I invest whatever I invest into them? etc) Every organism does want to have as many offspring as possible, but it also doesn't want to waste its own time/effort/life in doing so.


Having the ability to have more offspring is not necessarily a good thing. Take it to the logical conclusion: why aren't all organisms designed to have thousands of offspring, like insects? It doesn't work well for everybody.
I know that, but being able to produce offspring in times of hardship is advantageous over not being able to. Of course over population could be a problem, but there are other mechanism that ahve evolved to stop that: But this doesn't change the fact that being able to reproduce in harder circumstances, is better than not being able to. That is what evolution works on...the adaptability and ability to continue reproducing no matter how hard the times are...

How often have you heard the saying "I wouldn't have sex with you if you were the last man on earth"? Well, what if there was one man left on earth? How would the race continue to reproduce?
 
  • #19
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Here's a thought for you all now that I have you all seemingly hooked.

Have you ever wondered why the Y chromosome is so much smaller than the X chromosome?
 
  • #20
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Originally posted by Another God
Things do try to reproduce as much as they can but don't they? It still depends on mating rituals, mate selection (is that other individual good enough for me or not? Will my offspring survive after I invest whatever I invest into them? etc) Every organism does want to have as many offspring as possible, but it also doesn't want to waste its own time/effort/life in doing so.
Isn't that my point? Organisms don't actually reproduce as much as possible, because there are costs involved in doing so. In fact, it may be advantageous to have half the population incur different costs than the other half.

I know that, but being able to produce offspring in times of hardship is advantageous over not being able to.
Who said anything about not being able to produce offspring? When two organisms (successfully) mate, offspring are produced, regardless of whether the offspring physically come from one of them or both of them.

How often have you heard the saying "I wouldn't have sex with you if you were the last man on earth"? Well, what if there was one man left on earth? How would the race continue to reproduce?
It wouldn't. But even if he could reproduce asexually as well as sexually, I wouldn't give good odds of the race surviving anyway, if conditions were so harsh that it was already narrowed down to one remaining organism, especially when all you're doing is perpetually producing genetically identical copies (other than the occasional mutation) of that one organism.
 
  • #21
iansmith
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Originally posted by Another God
Hermaphrodites change from male to female right?
Hermaphrodites have both sexual organs. i.e. it is a male and female at the same time. some species are capable of self-fertilization whereas some requires 2 individuals. Therefore, both partner becomes pregnant.

Genetic diversity becomes important. If your genetic diversity as a species does not increase due to hermaphrodites, then what is the point of having numerous individuals becoming pregnant. Numerous offspring will flood the enviroment and as you said

Originally posted by Another God

Each species' biggest threat comes from its own species since they are all competing for exactly the same resources.
So limiting the number of individuals that becomes pregnant, limits the number of new individuals and it limits the competition.

Why 2? 3 is too many. Can you imagine the complexity of 3 different kind of sex.


Originally posted by Monique
The reason that microorganisms don't need meiosis (in my opinion) is that they divide very very fast and are able to adapt to their environment much quicker than mammals do. They can take up genes from their environment and loose genes when they don't need them.
In term of generation, it takes about the same time for microorganism to adapt to the enviromnent than us. It is just that micororganism take 10 minutes to few hours to have a generation whereas most meazoan take weeks to years. The mutation rate in bacteria and archea is sligthly higher than eucarya. 10-4 to 10-7 for bacteria and archeae and 10-8 to 10-12 for eucarya.
As you point out microorganism can uptake genetics elements and are more prone to modification transposons and viruses.
 
  • #22
iansmith
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Originally posted by Another God
Have you ever wondered why the Y chromosome is so much smaller than the X chromosome?
Have you ever wonder why only mamals have this chromosome dependent sex determination?
 
  • #23
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Originally posted by Ambitwistor
Isn't that my point? Organisms don't actually reproduce as much as possible, because there are costs involved in doing so. In fact, it may be advantageous to have half the population incur different costs than the other half.
I think this is a good point...its got me thinking....


[/quote][/b]
Who said anything about not being able to produce offspring? When two organisms (successfully) mate, offspring are produced, regardless of whether the offspring physically come from one of them or both of them.
...
It wouldn't. But even if he could reproduce asexually as well as sexually, I wouldn't give good odds of the race surviving anyway, if conditions were so harsh that it was already narrowed down to one remaining organism, especially when all you're doing is perpetually producing genetically identical copies (other than the occasional mutation) of that one organism. [/B][/QUOTE] The first part, the point of either of the individuals being able to have offspring as opposed to one exclusive half of the species being able to is to avoid the problem outlined with the 'last male on earth'.

As for the last male on earth scenario, I never said the species was on the brink of extinction, I said there was only one male...which of course, in the situation of any 2 sex species would put it on the brink of extinction. Secondly, the scenario doesn't even have to apply to worldwide, extinction event ideas. Populations can get seperated at any time, and if that population happens to have incredibly few females, then the species is put into immediate risk.

but most importantly....
But even if he could reproduce asexually as well as sexually, I wouldn't give good odds of the race surviving anyway, if conditions were so harsh that it was already narrowed down to one remaining organism, especially when all you're doing is perpetually producing genetically identical copies (other than the occasional mutation) of that one organism

please read the other posts aswell:
I'll say this a few more times, because no one seems to have caught onto it yet: You don't need to have two sexes in order for meiosis => recombination to occur.

Sexual reproduction can be done without need of two exclusive sexes. Why are 2 sexes so predominant?
In other words, I am not talking about self fertilisation, or about budding, or cloning. I am talking about sexual redproduction, without needing two exclusive sexes.
 
  • #24
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Originally posted by iansmith
Genetic diversity becomes important. If your genetic diversity as a species does not increase due to hermaphrodites, then what is the point of having numerous individuals becoming pregnant.
I am not talking about hermaphrodites, I am talking about there being no sexes. There would still be sexual reproduction.

To make this easier, imagine Gay men could have babies, and lesbians could have babies, as well as normal heterosexual people having babies. There. That is what I am talking about. Except in a real world scenario, there wouldn't be any need for a penis and a vagina (and the various internal differences), as there would be one sexual system common to both.

So limiting the number of individuals that becomes pregnant, limits the number of new individuals and it limits the competition.
Competition from within doesn't count against the species in terms of evolution though. If internal competition is the worst competition, then the species is doing great evolutionarily. Think about it....I'm sure you know what i mean.
Why 2? 3 is too many. Can you imagine the complexity of 3 different kind of sex.
I can imagine a complex version, but I am sure you can imagine the same simple version that I am thinking of. Some organisms exist in which there are many sexes. They don't require all of the sexes to be involved, what they require is one from a sex other than themselves.

So you are sex 12, you can mate with sex 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, but you cannot mate with sex 12. In other words, your options are opened up to something like 14/15s of the total popultion, rather than our rather limited 1/2 of the population. The point of sexual reproduction is not to sample every 'sex' of the species, the point is to recombine the DNA from two individuals in a new way.
 
  • #25
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Originally posted by iansmith
Have you ever wonder why only mamals have this chromosome dependent sex determination?
No i haven't. But you left out Insects. They also have a xsome dependenve for sex. They do it differently (ie: no Y at all), but they still do it.

I suppose it has to do with being Diploid for starters. Can u give me an example of a Diploid species which doesn't have a xsome dependence?
 

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