Invisible Tools: Sex

There’s no getting around this one, because it’s the elephant in the room.  Maybe two elephants.

Back in the first post, a tool was defined as something that makes our lives easier.

Back in the old days, and I’m talking very very old days when the Earth was young, our great-grandma was known as Primordial Goo.

As far as PG was concerned, stray cosmic rays were sufficient to help nudge her nascent DNA into new ecological niches.  She was in no hurry, and the Earth wasn’t changing all that much.  And that was all well and good for billions of years.

But the time came when the environment changed faster.  And if PG didn’t keep up, there was a good chance she would miss out on the good stuff.

So, along comes a crazy cosmic ray and BANG!, two different beings of the same type get together and swap some DNA.  Each partner gives up half.  Two halves make a whole.  And in this case, it’s a whole new organism that’s a LOT different than either parent.

A new tool was born.  This tool is called sex.  Every time two beings get together and swap DNA to make a new being, it’s called sex.  Stop giggling, because this is biology.  It has nothing to do with the exercise bits.

The problem with sex is that it makes new beings slowly.  If you want to take over the world, like PG did long ago, then you go in for cloning.  Some species use it today, and some species can switch between the two.

But if your environment is changing fairly fast, then sex is the way to go.  Every new being you make is a lot different than the parents.  And some of those differences are going to be good for survival.  Some won’t, and those kids won’t make it.  If you’re a feeling being, shed a tear, appreciate their sacrifice, and move on.

So, the next time you’re thinking about sex, and I know you will, think about it as a tool for your species.  Reflect on our ancestor, the PG, and go back to what you were doing.

We’re going to need all the help we can get.


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