The testis: the witness of the mating system, the site of mutation and the engine of desire
Author: Short, RV
Source: Acta Pædiatrica, Volume 86, Supplement 422, 1 July 1997 , pp. 3-7(5)
Abstract:There is now abundant evidence in a wide range of mammalian and non‐mammalian species to show that the relative size of the testis and the morphology of the spermatozoa are infallible predictors of the mating system. Species with the largest testis/body weight ratios and the best spermatozoa have a multi‐male or promiscuous mating system in which sperm competition operates. Judged by these criteria, men were not designed to be promiscuous. There is increasing evidence in humans to show that most spontaneous mutations of the germ line occur in the testis. Because these provide the variability on which natural selection can operate, the testis holds the key to evolution. Genes on the Y chromosome that control male fertility are particularly prone to mutations, perhaps because of the mutagenic metabolites produced by the metabolically active testis. Testicular descent into a scrotum, and cooling by countercurrent heat exchange between the spermatic artery and vein may have evolved as a way of holding the mutation rate in check. The hormones secreted by the testis, which control libido and aggression, ensure that these male mutations are disseminated as widely as possible throughout the population.
Document Type: Original Article
Affiliations: Department of Perinatal Medicine, Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia
Publication date: July 1, 1997