A team of researchers seems to have found the answer to the age-old question: Why do males exist? According to a recently published study, all the males in the animal kingdom -- whether useful or not -- contribute to the overall evolutionary fitness of a species.
The researchers claim that the male half of the population helps eliminate genetic weaknesses that would otherwise wipe out the female species. Scientists and biologists have been long puzzled about how evolutionary selection lets males exist, since in a majority of species, sperm is males' only contribution to the entire reproductive cycle.
However, British scientists now claim that the existence of males helps fend off diseases and other genetic malfunctions, since it is the female who “sexually selects” the male to produce an offspring. This, in turn helps improve the gene pool and the health of the population.
"Competition among males for reproduction provides a really important benefit, because it improves the genetic health of populations. Sexual selection achieves this by acting as a filter to remove harmful genetic mutations, helping populations to flourish and avoid extinction in the long term," lead researcher Matt Gage said.
The researchers concluded the study based on their observation of the sexual selection among Tribolium flour beetles. During the observation period, which lasted for almost 10 years, the researchers let the female members sexually select a male counterpart for reproduction. The scientists noticed the results under varying degree of sexual selection and found that strong sexual selection resulted in a fitter population.
The study has been published in the journal Nature.
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