So, I love square dancing and meiosis.
I started square dancing (evidence) in Bloomington, Indiana, at dances hosted by the fatted calf string band (first at Brad’s house and ultimately at the Bishop). I have yet to find a dance in Davis, CA, and miss it a lot.
Why square dance: The music is awesome, it’s a ton of fun, and because a caller is there telling you what to do, I don’t stand around awkwardly without a clue.
As for meiosis, first off I think it’s awesome, but I do wonder why we do it the way we do, and why we do it at all.
Why sex: Since males do not themselves make babies producing clonal females or self-fertilizing hermaphrodites seems like a more sensible option than all the drama associated with sex. Nonetheless males do exist, and we do meiosis all the time (in the interest of full disclosure, I am a male who is doing meiosis right now). There are a few potentially good reasons for reproducing sexually – you can get rid of crappy mutations, and bring together good ones, and you can stay ahead of the parasites who are evolving to defeat you. My friend Levi Morran just found awesome evidence for this later option in a clever experimental manipulation of C. elegans (check out his paper, the associated perspective, and the NPR story).
Why males and females do it different: Graham Coop and I recently worked on the question of why males and females recombine at different rates and in different places. We argue that since chromosomes enter female meiosis II but only one leaves, females may recombine at higher rates than males to make it hard for selfish genes to take advantage of this vulnerable time. This is especially true of meiotic drivers near centromeres that operate in meiosis one. This could explain high levels of female recombination generally, and specifically elevated female recombination rates near centromeres. See our paper an arXiv for a more formal and complete argument.
Enough science talk, enjoy the pure awesomeness of this video
*Thanks to John Wilkins at Lost in Transcription for digging this up.