Y Makes A Man: The Fascinating Story Of The Y Chromosome

Posted: June 13, 2014

The all important Y chromosome that delivers the much awaited boy child in India: Did you know it is changing in ways that could alter the future of humankind?

Genes maketh a man and a woman. Human beings have 46 genes: 44 chromosomes plus the two sex genes – the X chromosome and Y chromosome. So genetically speaking, if you are a 44+XX, behold you are a woman and 44+XY, you are a man. In the process of baby making, if 22+X comes from the mommy in the egg and 22+Y comes from the daddy in the sperm, the child is usually a boy. If 22+X from mommy meets 22+X from daddy then a sweet little girl is born.

So, daddies are the real sex deciding factors here but they can’t be blamed for which sperm wins in the race to meet the egg. We don’t really want to play the blame game, do we?

Put three mommies together in a room and they will tell you how their daughter is the mischievous one or how the son is the sweet little child or vice versa. We cannot predict the behavior of our wards based on their sex then why obsess about wanting a particular gendered child (read boy). One argument is that the boy will look after the parents in their old age but that is not true, is it? There are enough examples of the girl child who looks after her parents or both girl and boy looking after the parents. If this is your aim when having children, a life insurance policy will serve you better.

One argument is that the boy will look after the parents in their old age but that is not true, is it? There are enough examples of the girl child who looks after her parents…

When the obstetrician pulls out the little one from the mother the first thing we invariably check is the gender of the baby down there. But once clothed and wrapped you cannot really differentiate a boy child from a girl. The only way some parents manage to differentiate their baby for the world is by swathing them in pinks and blues or by sticking a pink hair clip or head band for the girl baby. Sadly, there are no such ornaments for little boys.

Humans have come a long way to becoming what we are today. In the beginning there were no sexes, we were all asexual organisms. We multiplied by dividing (a paradox a biologist will appreciate).

It is only much later that the Y chromosome came into existence. The Y chromosome is smaller than the X chromosome and if certain (under debate) studies are proved right then it is believed that the Y chromosome is actually shrinking and might not exist in a few thousand years. So will that be the end of “man” kind?

Maybe not, nature is adaptive and can change with time, unlike some of us. Nature will find a way for organisms to exist with men or without men.

For the time being and in my lifetime, I actually enjoy the company of my men. I would not want to live in an all women society. An all men society will also not be that attractive. A society of both men and women is a much better deal. A yin to the yang.

Further reading on the Y chromosome and genes:

http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/basics/chromosome

http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/chromosome/Y

http://www.npr.org/2004/12/13/4225769/as-y-chromosome-shrinks-end-of-men-pondered

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2012/02/24/rest-easy-men-shrinkage-of-the-y-chromosome-has-apparently-stopped

Pic credit: Yeonsang (Used under a CC license)

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