A genetic expert warned recently that men are on the verge of extinction. Well, not exactly, but in another 5 million years – maybe yes! The researcher in human sex chromosomes revealed that the male Y chromosome is dying and could run out one day. What will happen to MAN-kind then?
Professor Jennifer Graves of the Australian National University, Canberra has done a lot of work of the evolution of sex determination and has paved the way for developments in diagnosis of genetic disorders and gender-related diseases in humans. In her lecture entitled, ‘The Decline and Fall of the Y Chromosome and the Future of Men,’ she revealed the bleak future of men to medical student at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI) in Ireland.
She said however, not to worry too much right now as the change will take place after another 5 million years. She said, “300 million years ago the Y chromosome had about 1,400 genes on it, and now it’s only got 45 left, so at this rate we’re going to run out of genes on the Y chromosome in about 5 million years. The Y chromosome is dying and the big question is what happens then.”
The male chromosome has a gene SRY which turns on the development of testis and pumps out male hormones that determines maleness. She said during her lecture that it isn’t sure what would happen once the Y chromosome dies out. She said, “Humans can’t become parthenogenetic (asexual), like lizards, because several vital genes must come from the male.”
According to scientists there were several candidate genes which could take over when SRY disappears but they added that whichever genes takes over the SRY job will be out of pure chance. Speaking on the implications of having some other gene take over the job of Y chromosome, she said, “It is even possible that two or more different sex-determination systems based on different genes could arise in different populations.’ She added, “These could no longer reproduce with each other, leading to two different species of humans.”
The future of men is bleak. The very ‘Y’ factor of maleness is on the road to extermination. The only hope lies in the other potential genes who might take over the role of SRY. But the question is, 5 million years from now, would there be any men left? What kind of new progeny would there be? And, most of all, is there a possibility that mankind would witnesses the evolution of two different kind of human species? There are no concrete answers as yet!