The art of reproduction
Posted on: 06 Nov 2012
If there is a Playroom for the Creation of Everything, it has to be inhabited by strange lunatic children with millions and millions of chemistry vials. Species, colours, sexes (one species has 16 sexes!) behaviour – millions of variations just on this planet . Imagine the wonders of the entire universe. What fun if, instead of being reborn just on Earth (even though it would take a thousand lifetimes to see all her wonders), one could be born on a different world each time. Or develop the ability, as so many of our Gurus have done, to travel between time and space.Imagine any kind of possible variation in living beings and it already exists: in lizards / alligators when eggs are buried in cool sand, you get girls. Warm sand gets boys. In turtles it is the other way round. However, in snapping turtles and crocodiles, cool or hot sand hatches girls, warm sand hatches boys. Three variations, and which are bizarre. How can temperature affect the genes?But sex selection gets even more curious.
The Stictococcus sjoestedti is an insect that sucks the sap from cocoa trees. When she lays her eggs, those affected by a fungus become girls, the uninfected become boys.The female Armadillo fuses egg with sperm, as do all mammals. But then the egg splits into four and four identical children of the same sex are born each time.Honeybee females can either be sterile females or fertile queens – but it depends on the food they are fed when they are larva!How about Greenspoon worms. Their sex is determined by society! When the larva hatches from the egg it has no sex at all. That will depend on whom the larva meets. If the larva encounters a female worm, it becomes male. If, after three weeks it has not met a female, it becomes a female itself. The female then grows 200,000 bigger than the male.
The male sits on the nose of the female where she inhales him into her reproductive tract. He now sits there in a little room (literally called androecium, or Little Man's Room) and fertilizes passing eggs for the rest of his life !The Capella worm males look for females. But if they do not find them within a specific time, they turn into hermaphrodites. In the Slipper Limpet family – a sea creature which lives with oysters – everyone is born male. But when a fellow finds himself alone, he becomes a female and starts attracting mates. As the males accumulate around, and on top of the female, many of the males who cannot reach her become female themselves.How about the marine worm Oohryotrocha puerilis. If two females meet, the smaller one becomes a male. He then grows larger than the female. But as soon as he grows larger, both individuals change sexes again and the female becomes the male and starts growing larger. Then they change again and so on. When they have both grown to the sizes they want and have both been together as a happy couple for some time, they both become hermaphrodites. Does it take a long time for creatures to become male or female? Apparently not. The black hamlet fish, which lives in our waters, swims along the edge of a coral reef and finds a mate. The couple take turns to become male or female as they play – changing sexes every time the female lays her eggs.How about numbers and ratios? The female mite, who lives in the quills of the sparrow, lays exactly 12 eggs – of which only one is male.
Nasonia vitripennis, the tiny wasp that lays its eggs in the blowfly baby, can decide whether to have boys or girls by fertilizing the eggs. She keeps the male sperm in her body and releases it on the exact number she wants. Fertlized – females; Unfertilized - males.The Button Beetle lives in the hollows of date stones. If the female has failed to find a mate she lays unfertilized eggs which turn into males. She then mates with the first to hatch and then lays a large brood of only daughters.The bacteria Escherichia coli, better known as E. Coli, go one better. They have separated reproduction and sex. To reproduce they simply divide (clone) themselves into two identical germs. But they have sex with each other to exchange genes – and when they are in the mood for it, the way humans do.Snails are hermaphrodites with both male and female organs. When they mate, each snail will fertilize the other and they will both have children.Clownfish live in schools.
All of them are born male. But the dominant member of the group will become female and mate with the lower members of the group. If she dies, the next member of the hierarchy will start changing in a few hours. It is exactly the opposite in Blue Headed Wrasse who are born female and whose group leader becomes male.The Stoplight Parrotfish changes from female when young to male when old, but not just its internal organs, but its colours which go from marbled black, white and red to beautiful greens and yellows.The Bdelloid Rotifers, pink slender transparent insects found in moss, and among the most common insects, stopped producing males many million years ago. An all female species, they simply clone themselves to reproduce. (If we could do that, we would also say goodbye to most crime, wars, corruption and bad governance and bring back a time when gentleness, peace, food, water and children were the centres of existence)The human cannot naturally control the number, sex or even timing of his / her children. Instead of discovering and enjoying this wonderful world of magic, we are now in the last phases of destroying it. I wonder if the Mad Scientists of Universal Creation had meant this to happen.