for whom: Glenn Peter Setter (57).
What: Professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Oslo.
Why: He recently published the book “Sex – The Greatest Mystery of Evolution.”
Why did you write this book?
– This is an idea for a book that I have had for a long time. The evolution of sexual reproduction, its consequences for the evolution of life, and how these things still affect us humans, is an insanely rich and exciting story. Sometimes the topic that forms the basis of a narrative is complex and difficult, so this was not an easy book to write about in popular science.
– I hope that the book will ultimately be read and evaluated according to these premises, although I understand that it was initially placed in the context of the gender debate now.
You write in the introduction that you “want more than to entertain with fun facts from nature.” Can you still provide some examples of something you find particularly fascinating, and perhaps surprising to some, in nature?
– Yes, where do you start?! We say the difference is simple. It’s not always so small. In some species Monkfish The male turns into a small parasite that attaches to the female’s abdomen. Most of its organs are renewed, except for the testicles. They deliver the goods every time a massive female is ready to reproduce. There is no shortage of strange stories from nature, so to speak.
What is gender, and how did we emerge as gendered beings?
There may be a lot that people put into the word “sex,” but at the most basic level it is closely linked to procreation. Sex also has a long history. We have to go back nearly two billion years to find the origin. Sex is primarily about how new life is formed by fertilization between gametes from two different individuals. How and why this type of cloning evolved forms a large and important part of the book.
The question has been described as “the queen of evolution’s mysteries.” It’s hard to get the final clue to the mystery in the book, but what a crazy story. I can reveal that the virus likely played, astonishingly, one of the key roles in the evolution of sexual reproduction.
Can you briefly explain the difference between sexual reproduction and asexual reproduction, giving examples of the latter?
– Sexual reproduction occurs through two parents, and asexual reproduction is only one. Bacteria reproduce asexually by dividing the mother cell into two daughter cells. Each daughter cell inherits exact copies of the parent cell’s DNA molecule.
The somewhat extreme points succeeded in paving the way for the discussion.
— Glen Peter Setter
We have to talk about the gender debate, which has occupied an increasing space in the public eye in recent years. Many argue that there are more sexes than males and females, but you write in your book that “no living organism on Earth has more than two different sexes.” How can you justify that?
– In the vast majority of multicellular organisms, fertilization occurs between pairs of gametes that differ in size and function. One large gamete (female) and one small (male). In animals, we call it the egg cell and the sperm cell, respectively. This is the fundamental difference between the sexes and the first that has evolved purely historically. In biology, sexes are determined based on sex cells. This is the one thing that always separates the sexes, even though many other things are different.
– There is no living organism that produces a third type of gamete. By definition, we have at most two different sexes. I must stress that, of course, we do not rule out the fact that there is more than the sex cells that separate women from men. Definitions help you think, but they don’t explain everything.
We humans cannot change our sex, not even with medical help.
— Glen Peter Setter
Do you and those who believe there are multiple genders simply disagree about how you define gender?
– No, I’m right and they’re wrong, heh heh. All joking aside, there are no serious competitors to the binary-sex biological model in the natural sciences. The pattern of two classes of gametes is a striking pattern in nature that science must address and seek to understand. When sexologists and gender researchers talk about multiple gender categories, they are putting the natural sciences aside and really talking about completely different things.
What is your opinion about the change in sex between humans and others in nature?
-Biologically, sex change means that an individual who produced one type of gamete during one life stage changes and begins producing the other type of gamete in the next life stage. We call organisms capable of such sexual flexibility serial hermaphrodites. It is very rare in nature, but there are some famous examples – among others – in various species of wrasse and shrimp. The mechanics behind it are incredibly cool.
We humans do not have such flexible mechanisms, and therefore cannot change sex – not even with medical help. We determine our sex like all other mammals.
In 2016, Parliament decided that it was possible Changing legal sex Without the need for a specific diagnosis or medical treatment. And a The Bufdir investigation was recommended earlier this year To create a third legal gender category. What do you think that?
This is a big, complex question that concerns much more than biology. I understand that some people want to change their legal category. If you have a different gender expression and identity that does not match your reproductive biology, there are situations where the law can help make life easier.
However, it is not entirely without problems. After all, biology does not change through legal transfer. Among other things, it would be unfortunate if legal change resulted in the loss or abandonment of gender-based rights that are biologically relevant and important – for example in matters relating to reproductive health. I am listening to different inputs into this discussion and have not arrived at a final position.
She writes in the book that discussions in the gender debate are often “emotional and harsh.” Can you explain how and why you think this is so, and how you personally experienced it?
– The extreme points have succeeded to some extent in paving the way for discussion. Moderate voices are interpreted into an image of an enemy where we are against them. The phrase “for and against transgender” is false when most of us really want to understand the phenomenon and basically agree that as many people as possible should be able to live the best lives possible.
– Sometimes I was met with noise and unreasonable accusations, but also with nice and clear conversations. There are some difficult issues that we as a society have to deal with in this complex situation, and perhaps people on both sides should try to reconcile with each other?
What do you want the reader to remember after reading the book?
– Wonder, excitement, and intense desire to know more.
To normal questions. What book means the most to you?
– Here I must say “The Blind Watchmaker” by Richard Dawkins. As a young student, it was crucial in my career choice. I would hardly be an evolutionary biologist today if it weren’t for the fact that I read it in my formative years.
What makes you happy?
– A few things. Spend time with someone who loves music. good food. Nature experiences.
Who was your childhood hero?
– Vidar Carlsen. A neighbor boy who was about ten years older than me. I had to go on ten day games with him and go out and tag barn owls etc when I was 8-9 years old. He knew “everything” about birds, nature and the outdoors and I wanted to be just like him.
What quality do you wish you had?
-I would like to be better at small talk. I can feel very uncomfortable in social settings.
What do you do when you poop?
– Then I’m completely crazy and take another piece of cake.
What are you willing to march with or against?
– Demonstration trains are perhaps most effective when the situation is concrete and there are two clear and conflicting interests: “Let the river live!”, “Do not stop maternity services at the ABC Clinic!”. Among the biggest issues now, complex climate, nature and energy are perhaps the most important. Here, other methods might be more useful than posters and trains, but I can happily demonstrate against the demolition of a concrete and important natural area, for example.
Is there anything you regret?
– No, it’s not fruitful.
Who would you rather be stuck in an elevator with?
– Paul McCartney And Two Guitars Then we can play “Two of Us” and forget time and place.
Stay up to date. Get the daily newsletter from Dagsavisen
“Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff.”