Normark speaks on Studies of Evolution of Unusual Genetic Systems


When it comes to sex, the roundworm Diploscapter pachys is a loner. Abstinence may have found its most impressive poster child yet: Diploscapter pachys. The tiny worm is transparent, smaller than a poppy seed and hasn't had sex in 18 million years.
It has basically just been cloning itself this whole time. Usually, that is a solid strategy for going extinct, fast. What is its secret?
"Scientists have been trying to understand how some animals can survive for millions of years without sex, because such strict, long-term abstinence is very rare in the animal world," says David Fitch, a biologist at New York University. Most plants and animals use sex to reproduce.
Photo courtesy of Karin Kiontke and David Fitch/NYU

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