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September 20, 2004

Banal sex

Hate do another linker post but this was paragraph from a review of Richard Dawkins' new book was just too good to pass up. (hat tip: Butterflies and Wheels)

Matt Ridley, "Meet the concestors", The Guardian, 2004 September 18.
"For particular genes, you are more closely related to some chimpanzees than to some humans." A good example is blood groups: you and a chimp might be group O, while your spouse and the chimp's mate might be group A. Put like that, it sounds banal, but it is a point that goes deep into our animal ancestry - we can swap hox genes with a fruit fly and still grow the right body - and at the same time it is philosophically unsettling. We each have two kinds of globin genes, but they had a common ancestor in the lamprey's concestor, so "every gene has its own tree, its own chronicle of splits, its own catalogue of close and distant cousins... individuals are temporary meeting points on the criss-crossing routes that take genes through history." Sex may unite a species and divide it from others, but the genes, not the species, are the central entities of the evolutionary tale.

Posted by jeet at 04:11 AM