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Chinahand

Evolutionary Science And Its Implications

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Nice video from the Royal Society with David Attenborough and Brian Cox discussing Charles Darwin.

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A discussion of breasts.

Sorry, Woody, it doesn't contain any breasts, it's a monologue, so it may be quicker to read it here.

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Why sex exists is one of the great questions that science has been attempting to answer.  Read the Red Queen and Dr Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex for just some of the details.

However there is another fascinating question that needs answering as well - how does nature determine whether something is male or female in the first place; and as you'd expect in an evolutionary environment there are lots of ways to do it.

journal.pbio.1001899.g003

In mammals (and beetles (coleoptera) if you have two different sex chromosomes XY you're male, if they are the same XX you're female, in birds (and butterflies (Lepidoptera)) it is the other way round - if the sex chromosomes are the same ZZ you're male if different ZW female.

For the rest of the web of life it can get really complicated with all sorts of evolutionary niches producing all sorts of ways of deciding if something is male or female - think crocodiles and temperature, but that is just the start of it!

If you want to get an overview of all the technical details try this paper from the Public Library of Science: Sex Determination: Why So Many Ways of Doing It?

But if not just enjoy the graphic.  Biology is really really complicated - life is sloppy, changes, makes mistakes, but if it works it works and life carries on.  The result: the wonderful world that we see.

 

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Nice video on the Evo-Devo of whales and dolphins:

 

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Great World Service science program on the earliest animal life back in the Ediacaran many millions of years prior to the Cambrian Explosion.

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