Adam's end was never in the cards

By Razib Khan | February 24, 2012 7:23 am

There has been a lot of talk in the media about a new paper which reports that the Y chromosome is not deteriorating, as had been previously inferred from the data. In the 2004 Bryan Sykes wrote Adam’s Curse: A Future Without Men which used this model as a framing device (and naturally elicited great general interest). You can read some earlier critiques at Gene Expression Classic. I never paid attention to this debate in the details because it seemed ludicrous on the face of it. Bryan Sykes’ was predicting the extinction of males in ~100,000 years. Right, we just happen to be living right before the genomic Götterdämmerung. I don’t think so. Sometimes absurd results which fly in the face of plain history and robust theory are profoundly insightful. But most of the time they’re just false leads.

MORE ABOUT: Genomics
  • pconroy

    IMO, it’s likely we are entering an era of ever expanding fertility treatments, which will include the “Artificial Uterus” or “Uterus Replacement” in the coming decades, and then the shoe will permanently be on the other foot?!

  • Mike Keesey

    How quaint, a technologist underestimating biological complexity. P. Conroy, did you run that scenario by your HAL-9000 computer? 😀

  • pconroy


    Yes, and the output was, “Affirmative” 😉

    By artificial I mean, not attached to a living female. Many organs can be kept alive for an almost indefinite amount of time via mechanical pumping of blood etc. Why not a uterus?

  • Maju

    The argumentation was that in some mammal species the Y chromosome (not males as such) has vanished and its role taken by some other chromosome.

  • Alam

    Before inventing artifical uterus, technologists + biologists need to find a better way of stimulating eggs growth and extracting them. Right now, the process is painful, time consuming, and expensive.

    Whats the growth rate of cheap surrogacy like?

  • Mike Keesey

    @pconroy, hehe, O.K., that’s a bit more reasonable. I’m still not holding my breath, though. (Except in the airlock.)

  • dave chamberlin

    Brian Sykes doesn’t give a rats ass about real science anymore. He took the lazy mans’ choice and sold out to become an infotainment salesmen. He is a good looking blond guy so he’ll have plenty more money making opportunities to blather on TV and write really bad popsci books like this one.

  • Katie

    #7 dave,
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not questioning your taste in men, but have you actually seen Sykes? He is 65 and grey-haired.

  • Razib Khan

    #8, i think perhaps he meant spencer wells?

  • dave chamberlin

    yep, my bad

  • LLoyd S. Gordon

    I quite like the idea of the uterus being where it is at present. Let us think about stabilising our genomic inheritance as men and improving the sanitation of our females so that our manhood (vajra) can enjoy the womanhood(yoni) without risk of infection. Maybe anal ejection could be resited a little to increase the separation between the anus and the vaginal orifice in the female (at present ca 3/4 inch = 0.7cm). This would better help us as Terrestrial Lillium souls to remain consistent with Jehovan biological design and pleasure.


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Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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