The rise of performance-enhancing genes

Saturday, May 5, 2012 - 18:30 in Biology & Nature

A single 'super' gene can make a dramatic difference to an athlete's performance. But is that fair?Evolution has not acted equally on men and women. This is most clear when it comes to the allocation of genes that control power and strength. The reason for this is not as obvious as it might seem. It is unlikely to be a product of differential hunting requirements. Indeed, in many mammals, it is the females that do the hunting. There seems no reason, apart from cultural, why a woman could not hunt as effectively as a man, whether over a short period or persistently for two days – and of course great apes that only hunt vegetables (gorillas and orangutans) still have males that are considerably more powerful than females. Instead, the selection for strength is most likely a product of males fighting other males in competition for mates.It seems likely that...

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