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U=(N/T)M*G: Switch

The Y chromosome, which about half the planet’s population carries, is an interesting little thing. In humans, and most other species, it’s one of many traits to identify a male. Of course, this is not always the case. A lot of people put stock in that unique little Y. Its presence, and the corresponding genitalia, have dominated history and culture and power for most of humanity’s stint on our little mudball.

While it may take another 4 million years, that little chromosome appears to be on the way out. The problem looming for Y is a common trait found in most other genes. Recombination. Basically, the Y can’t adapt and change. It’s survived this long on its ability to copy and paste from a back up blueprint. Scientists are very split over the fate of the Y, and males too. Some think the Y’s ability to copy and paste a clean chromosome will keep it around, while others think the Y will drop off and the reproductive blueprints will move to a different gene, as it has in species without the Y. In either case, it’s an interesting development in the field of DNA and reproduction.

Though it does beg some interesting questions. What if the timeline is off? We could be in the middle of a massive evolutionary shift away from Y and not know until it was done.

Such a shift has endless possibilities. Some enterprising bioterrorist could find a way to hasten this shift before evolution was complete and we have to compensate with artificial fertilization. Males might die out as a result of this change in genetics. A mono-gendered society might see a rise in trans individuals. Lesbianism would likely become the norm. Hastening the drop of the Y before evolution has us adapted just broke my brain with all the ways our world would change.

And what if we complete this changeover to a new reproductive genetic set on schedule? Will males still look and function as males? Will humans have the capability of some species and be able to switch genders under a certain set of circumstances? How will society and culture change once the Y is no longer one of the defining characteristics of masculinity? And oh, the ways sex and sexuality and gender expression will change could be all sorts of fun.

I think a plot bunny just bit me.

-T.A. Creech

Science in the pursuit of Fiction.


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