Sex and Evolution



Prof. Andrea Pilastro

DATE: 29th July 2020 (GMT +8)
TIME: 7:00 -8:00 pm (Time in China)

The evolutionary biology has often revolutionized the way we look at biological phenomena and their ultimate causal relationships. Perhaps the most drastic of these “biological Copernican revolutions” if the evolution of sexual reproduction. This is the most common form of reproduction in nature, and it is often associated with individuals in a population being males or females, although hermaphroditism and non-sexual reproduction are also widespread. We are therefore familiar with the idea that male and female are necessary for sexual reproduction. Secondly, sexual reproduction is usually seen as a fundamentally cooperative process, in which male and female unify their effort to increase offspring survival and fitness. Theoretical and empirical research has instead demonstrated that the male-female phenomenon is actually a consequence, rather than a prerequisite for sexual reproduction to occur, and that sexual reproduction is characterized by an evolutionary conflict, rather than by cooperation. Other consequences of the evolutionary process that Geoff Parker has named “sexual cascade”, which started in the seas more than one billion years ago with the evolution of multicellularity, will be illustrated.

  1. The Sexual Cascade and the Rise of Pre-Ejaculatory (Darwinian) Sexual Selection, Sex Roles, and Sexual Conflict – Geoff A. Parker
  2. The Evolution of Sex –  J.Marnard Smith July 1997