Biologists have predicted that the Y chromosome, the DNA which makes men, men, was gradually dying out and that it would lead to the extinction of the male species. A team of researchers just proved that this isn't going to happen.
Th X and Y chromosomes were the same size and shape and about 166 million years ago, a huge chunk of the Y chromosome was turned upside down and reinserted. No one knows why this happened, but the Y chromosome lost 781 of the 800 genes it originally shared with the X chromosome.
According to research from the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the team of researchers compared the human Y chromosome to that of the rhesus macaque, a primate that diverged from humans 25 million years ago.
The monkey's Y chromosome contains 20 genes, and 19 of them are identical to those of the human's Y. The research appears in this week's issue of Nature, and Jennifer Hughes says:
"We finally have empirical data that the Y chromosome has held steady over the last 25 million years. Most of the Y chromosome's gene loss happened almost immediately after it stopped recombining with the X chromosome."
Wired has published a very nice feature on Kip Thorne and the science behind Chris Nolan's Interstellar. Kip Thorne is one of the world's most celebrated theoretical physicists. He and Nolan worked together to ensure depictions of scientific happenings in the film are as accurate as possible. Read more