Call it a literal battle of the sexes: Researchers just revealed that the male Y chromosome is more evolved than ours.
The discovery -- unearthed by a female MIT researcher -- shows that the Y chromosome has advanced so much over the last 6 million years that there's now a 30 percent difference between the male genetic code and that of chimps, our nearest ancestor. For the rest of the human genetic code, there's only a 2 percent difference.
Naturally, the findings have men cheering and women scoffing in disbelief over the idea that males could possibly be more advanced. But the researchers caution that just because man's genetic code has evolved doesn't mean his behavior has.
Y Marks the Spot
Jennifer Hughes and her MIT colleague outline the new study in the journal Nature
. You can read the full scientific jargon of the two-year research project here
The abridged version: The Y chromosome rocks because it isn't part of a pair like the rest of our 44 chromosomes, meaning that when gene mutations occur, there's no matching chromosome to overshadow them. But it also has to do with female chimps being little hussies when in heat. By mating frequently with many partners, the females force the males to produce the most and best sperm.
And while 6 million years seems like a long time to us, the changes Y has undergone in that span would take other chromosomes about 310 million years to get right.
This news is remarkable for science because researchers previously thought not only that the X sex chromosome was evolving more rapidly than the Y, but that Y was in danger of becoming extinct all together
. So, the news is obviously a self-esteem booster for the previously underachieving, close-to-dying male gender.
The Mudslinging Begins
But thanks to headlines like "Are Men More 'Evolved' Than Women?
" neither gender is acting very evolved in its response to the study. Check out these comments from the Huffington Post's piece:
says, "In general terms ... men may be more evolved than women, but they just don't behave like they are. Evolution doesn't necessarily equal emotional maturity."
adds, "The gender that scratches its' balls and pees outside is NOT more evolved than mine."
says, "It's funny that an article comes out.. kinda in defense of men... and it's criticized, because of it's defense of men. We just can't win for losing lol."
Genetics aren't the same as behavior, so Y's rapid advancement doesn't mean men are acting any more advanced than women (nor does it mean their brain power now trumps women's). And even if more gene mutations occur to separate men from their chimp ancestors, we won't see the outcome of the changes in our lifetime.
But the men do deserve a hand for rallying back from near extinction. Somebody cue "I Will Survive."
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