Why sex? Why would organisms capable of reproducing independently, as females, evolve a second sex that is incapable of reproduction on its own? Over 6 decades of theory and research has failed to completely resolve this question. Because sex has very ancient roots and many potential evolutionary motivators we will never have a simple answer. Rather, the lure of this queen of questions in Biology is its reticulate nature and its colourful consequences, the ‘how’ and ‘when’ sorts of questions.
No single phenomenon is the source of more, and more varied, problems for study than sex. Nor more controversies. Why does a redback spider eat her mate? Does he let her? Why is a fruit fly male’s sperm as much as 2,000 times longer than a human’s? Why does an elephant seal bull outweigh an elephant seal cow by three times? Is female orgasm adaptive?
Many of the most interesting things about sex are the absurdities it fosters. In Biology 210 we will explore many of these colourful oddities along with the general properties of sexual systems from an evolutionary perspective.
- Adam Chippindale