Every single person who ever lived was created from the geens of one man and one woman. But we could soon make children from any organism, babies might grow outside the womb, we might even create hybrid humans, part human, part animal. Human reproduction is about to go through a revolution, will sex become extinct. Sex is amazing, without it none of us would be here. We are all descendents of the first human male anf female, people the bible calls adam and eve, and for almost all human hisotyr, the way we make babies has not changed at all, but a new wave of human reproduction is around the corner. New tech and our evolving biology are about to rewrite the future of sex and change the age old roles of men and women. Men and women have always competed in the age old battle of sexes, but nwhat happens if nature picks a winner? For the past half billion years, all complex life has reproduced through sexual recombination of their genees, But geneticist Jenny Grays, who studies kangeroos, one of the most earliest mammals we cna compare our run down genes to to see how much we’ve changed, thinks the days of humans doing it are numbered, at which point evolution will pick the superioor gender to win. Girls have 2 x chromeomes men hav 1 x and 1y. By looking at the sex chromosomes jenny can se how they’ve changed. Its bad news, males are on the road to extinction. Both men and women caryry an x chromosomes it’s large, but the Y chromosome is a run down shack, the y is smaller and has hardly any genes. When a sperm with an x gets to the egg first, the result is a girl, one x from mom, one x from dad. They get together and swap bits. In women, any harful mutations with x chromosome can be swaped with its healthy x before its passed tot he next generation. But men have no way to repair the y chromosme, there’s no copy to fall back on. It has no backupcopies the cell can use to fix them up, eventually what happens is you lose genes, and become less male. Maybe in 4 or 5 million years, they’ll be niothing left. Without a y chromosome men would be infertil. Will the extinction of humanity follow? Evolutionary biologist Levi Moran wants to know what happens when a species can no longer sexually reproduce. C elegans females are hermaphrodites, meaning they can reproduce with a male, or reproduce with themselves. They can change their gender by flipping a few switchess in their D NA. Thus the worms dont have sex often and dont have much genetic variation. They can’t even corss a petri dish of dangerous bacteria. But wwhen Levi engineered the worms to reproduce only through sex, banning asexual reproduction, then the worms are able to evolve defense against disease and cross the dish. Sex is what kept us from being wiped out by disease. Reproduction without sex means you can win the evolutionary arms race against pathogens with an unpredictable evolution math. Sex is bound to change, it can happen within a million years, or within the next decade. We can now make a baby with 2 men or 2 women. We have a radically new way to make people, you make a sperm from a woman stem cell or an egg from a male stem cell. For most human history we thought that as we develop we have the cells that we have, but in 2007 we discovered that we can take skin cells and turn them back into stem cells. Dr Renee Raelpara of Stanford university is transforming skin cells into sperm and eggs. stem cells exist naturally in the human embryo and have the power to turn into any cell in the human body. Heart cells, lung cells, even brain cells. We can now sculpt cell types our cells cant normally move into. A stem cell takes directions to become a unique job. She’s taken skin cells from men, reprogrammed them, then used bone proteins to direct these stem cells down the stem cell lineage. Renee can activate instructions of the Y chromosome in a infertile man’s stem cell to make a healthy sperm. But it is also possible that gay couples could have their own children. Renee believes she can makle sperm froma woman’s stem cell. But the number of genes on the y chromosome required to make sperm, about 50, it could allso be used for lesbian couples. Now ANY two human beings could concieve a couple regardless of gender or age. The world can be taken over by people reproducing in a dish. But the fetus would still have to spend 9 month inside a woman’s womb, blisful ignorance, but not for our mothers. What if women didnt have to carry the burden of pregancy. A radical shift in reproduction is already happening. Marine Biologist Nick Akway has just brought living creatures in to the world in a completely new way. Nick has built a machine that gives birth to living sharks. A grey box, an artificial uterus, an AU, and can take embryos out of species of shark and see if people continue o develop in an artificial environment. Nick built his AU to restore the population of the criticially endangered gray nurse shark a mission from the Australian government. He’s manage to keep them alive outside their environment, pbalanced ph and all. But keeping fish alive that havent been bron yet, is a whole new challenge. Also the needs of fetuses dramatically change as they grow, so we actually need multiple wombs for each stage. But Nick programmed his uterus to change its chemistry from bodily fluid to seawater in line with mother shark’s natural rhythm. The experiment was a resounding success, after a few weeks, nick’s lab gave birth to 14 perfectly form ed shark pups, and nick believes that what is possible for sharks today is possible for humans tomorrow, it’s about knowing when the mother changes the womb’s chemicl combination. Would a baby grown in a lab be the same as an infant nurtured in a woman? Will society accept these children as equal to those born in a natural womb. An AU can make miscarriages, prenatal complications, and death in childbirth horrors of the past. So what will now be the meaning of the word family? Its the backbone of our society. When tech transforms how our children are and who their parents can be? Bonobos and chimps are almost genetically identical, but Bonobos have gay sex, with the females in control even though males are stronger. The roles are dictated by environment. Bonobo
Chimps fight to survive in teh wild and die trying, they kill each other over territories, they compete over rank among males. What is true for chimps is often true for us. Franz is trying to understand what shapes roles of primates. Chimpas have no family srtructure, just alpha males who impregnate many chimps and then single mothers care for it by ourselves. But bonobos, aka Pygmy chimps, smaller chimps, have a different environemtn but different roles for gender. Bonobos share 98.5 % of genes with us and cimps. But female bonobos are colectively dominant over males, not individually dominant becausen they are smaller, but as a group, the females dominate te males. Even toug bonobo makles are larger and stronger than females, the females form alliances that keep the peace, violence is rare, killing even more rare. Females eat first then share food with the males, then if an social crisis erupts, te bonobos releive the stress by massive sex. Females avce sex wit males. The females as a collective can deny males sex, to stop conflict. This is why bonobos are known as the “hippies of the primate community”, “make ove not war”. Sex is the female bonobo’s choice for building alliances. The females will have sexual relations do bonding, and become dominant over the male. umans, chimps, and bonoobos are 98.5 identical but their societies are completely different. Dr Frans de waal believes the societies are dictated not by genes but environment. Bonobos live in a richer forest with more ressources so they have no competition from Gorillas, so bonobos have an easier time in their ecologies than chimps. This permits females to have coalitions to control males, because a chimpanzee female is on her own if she meets a male, so bonobos are a more cohesive society. So what can bonobos teach us about how women will change in the future. In the past few centuries, human ecology has famatically changeds, nost people now have food and shelter, like the bonobos do in their natural habitat, and most of us hav easy access to sex like we choose to. Are we headed for a society thats less like the warring and male dominated chimps? And more like the free loving and egalitarian bonobos, a society where children are raised by communities, and when conflicts occur, they are resolved with free spirited sex. Abundance of food supply makes things easier but doesnt change how adults respond to children or how adults respond to each other. Although our environemnt does shape our behaivior it takes many generations to do so. Our gender roles today traces back to 10s of thousands of years ago. Where chimps and bonobos lived in the forst, humans entered the savanna,a place where you can’t ealsy escape, so its a dangerous place, big lions, hyenas, int eh old days bigger than we are. So humans needed a differnt kind of society where they take care of offrspring, as a result you get pair bonding and get a nuclear family. And thats different from bonobos where the males are barely evolved. Unlike the great apres who assigned all child rearing to females, humans usually pair up to raise young, deeply routed on our brain chemistry. Neuroscientists discovered that hormoines like oxytocin are released insde the brain when humans interact with their bonded partner. These hormones urge us to trust each other and bond. So this pair binding frame work of the human species is very important and sets us aprt. Thus we have a strong drive to form our families around astrong bond between 2 individuals will not be alrtered for thousands of years. Tech may change our food supply, who’s capable of reproduction and how the young are born but Frans predicts that most of us will choose to reproduce not through a community, but rather, with a partner, after old habits genetic ones, are hard to break.