Men Not Going Extinct After All

Y chromosome is steadier than science used to think
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Feb 23, 2012 4:45 AM CST
A man walks, but not on the path to extinction.   (?Antony & Sunyu)

(Newser) – Relax, guys. It's no longer certain at all that you'll be extinct in 100,000 years, as one genetics professor predicted. Another scientist had decided that the all-important (to men) Y chromosome was losing genes at a rate that would make it non-existent in some 5 million years, and could spell the end of man much more quickly than that. But now a new study says the genetic decay seems to have stopped. Why? No one knows for certain, but the latest study has determined that most of the genetic loss occurred long, long ago, and that only a single gene has been lost in the last 25 million years.

"The Y is not going anywhere, and gene loss has probably come to a halt," lead researcher Jennifer Hughes tells the BBC. "We can't rule out the possibility it could happen another time, but the genes which are left on the Y are here to stay. They apparently serve some critical function which we don't know much about yet, but the genes are being preserved pretty well by natural selection." Group hug. (Read more Y chromosomes stories.)

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