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By Bryan Sykes

The inside of tale of the Y chromosome's deadly flaw, as advised through one of many world's best geneticists.

Male reproductive fragility has been the topic of a lot hugely publicized contemporary learn. Is it attainable, requested the New York Times, that males face extinction? Bryan Sykes examines the validity of those stunning experiences, targeting the defining attribute of fellows: the Y chromosome of their DNA. Guiding his readers via chapters like "The Blood of Vikings" and "Ribbons of Life," Sykes masterfully blends normal background with clinical truth, elucidating the biology of sexual copy, glossy genetics, and evolutionary biology. He finds that, whereas the Y chromosome makes man's life attainable, it additionally contains inside it the seeds of his destruction. well timed and engaging, this significant paintings covers a wealth of debatable issues, together with even if there's a genetic reason for male greed, aggression, and promiscuity; the prospective lifestyles of a male gay gene; and what, if whatever, will be performed to avoid wasting males from a sluggish, yet sure, extinction.

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Sample text

I dry the slide, protect it with a wafer of the thinnest glass imaginable and take it across to the microscope. Scanning the field, I pick what looks like a good cluster of chromosomes. From what I can see they are nicely spread out. With this cluster at the centre of the field, I click a 45 ADAM'S CURSE high-power lens into position and look through the eyepiece. There they are - my chromosomes. This time they are each marked with a striated pattern of light and dark bands that cut across their length.

But - and this was his absolutely crucial observation - however many times the experiment was repeated with a particular pair of characteristics, the percentages always remained the same. Eye colour and wing shape were always inherited together in 70 per cent of offspring, no matter how many times the experiment was repeated. Bit by bit, the secrets of the chromosome were being teased out. Sturtevant couldn't explain the consistency of these numbers by concluding that the features stayed together simply because the two genes were on the same chromosome.

The smaller chromosomes point stubby fingers towards each other, each one now badged and identifiable. The smallest, barely visible through lack of stain, seem lost and incidental. I scan the chromosomes by eye and start to pair them by appearance. First by size, long or short; then by their pattern of light and dark bands. Each one, with two important exceptions, has a twin somewhere else in the field of view, and I mentally cross them out as I find them. I am looking for the chromosomes that have no twins, the chromosomes that have come from only one parent, not from both.

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