Why do humans have sex? A new study may have found the answer.
“One of the oldest questions in evolutionary biology is ‘Why does sex exist?’ ” says Stuart Auld, a biologist at the University of Stirling in Scotland. His research team studied more than 6,000 waterfleas to explain the age old mystery of why humans have a biological imperative to get it on.
Waterfleas were used because they can reproduce both ways: through cloning and by having hot waterflea sex.
The findings, published in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, discovered that the flea’s “sexually produced offspring were more than twice as resistant to infectious disease as their cloned siblings,” which suggests that they are more likely to survive and pass on their genes.
“By comparing clonal and sexual daughters from the same mothers, we found sexually produced offspring get less sick,” Auld said. “Unusually, these creatures sometimes reproduce sexually by mating with a partner and sometimes asexually by cloning themselves.”
Sexual reproduction creates more opportunities for creatures to fight back against pathogens. With new genetic variations coming into the mix with each generation, children created the old fashioned way– through sex, are healthier than those created through cloning.