Big Picture Science Show

Big Picture Science Show: “Sex Post Facto”

micSeth Shostak, Molly BentleytodaySeptember 19, 2016 1

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    Big Picture Science Show: "Sex Post Facto" Seth Shostak, Molly Bentley


Birds do it, bees do it, but humans may not do it for much longer.  At least not for having children.  Relying on sex to reproduce could be supplanted by making babies in the lab, where parents-to-be can select genomes that will ensure ideal physical and behavioral traits.

Men hoping to be fathers should act sooner rather than later.  These same advancements in biotechnology could allow women to fertilize their own eggs, making the need for male sperm obsolete.

Meanwhile, some animals already reproduce asexually.  Find out how female African bees can opt to shut out male bees intent on expanding the hive.

Will engineering our offspring have a down side?  Sex creates vital genetic diversity, as demonstrated by evolution of wild animals in urban areas.  Find out how birds, rodents and insects use sex in the city to adapt and thrive.


  • Menno Schilthuizen  – Biologist and ecologist, at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Leiden University in The Netherlands.   His New York Times op-ed, “Evolution is Happening Faster Than We Thought,” is here.
  • Matthew Webster –  Evolutionary biologist, Uppsala University, Sweden
  • Hank Greely – Law professor and ethicist, Stanford University, who specializes in the ethical, legal and social implications of biomedical technologies.  His book is “The End of Sex and The Future of Reproduction.”


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