Wholly Virgin Paper

The article is about the species which is called the bdelloid rotifier, microscopic animals which have been around for millions of years.  The setting is a TV program where the bdelloid rotifier is the main guest of Dr. Tatiana, and the topic is about asexuality.  

The guests name is Miss Philodina roseola, a bdelloid rotifier.  When asked the question of when she, or anyone in her family last had sex, she claimed that her ancestors had not been on a date for about 85 million years.  When asked why, Miss Philodina answered that the males were abolished by her ancestors because they were better off without the males among their kind.  This remark was jeered at by the males in the audience.  Dr, Tatiana then asked Ms. Philodina how they reproduce themselves, she answered that they clone themselves to propagate their race.

There were varied reactions to Ms. Philodinas statement.  However, Dr. Tatiana rationalized her assertions by reminding the audience that  1) asexual reproduction is practiced by other species as well 2) cloning is efficient as the female needs only to reproduce 1 offspring for the population to retain its size and 3) asexuality in ancient species most often resulted to extinction.  This led to the next question Dr. Tatiana asked Ms. Philodina since their species continued to flourish.  At this point however, the audience was given the chance to address their queries to the guest. The E.Coli bacteria was the first to give a comment to the discussion describing on how they reproduced themselves.  Ms. Philodina at this point emphasized that they were eukaryotes, and that they practiced strict rules with regards to sex unlike the bacteria, hence, their not having alterations in their genetic structures in the past 85 million years.

The ram was the next one to take the floor.  The ram contended that all species which previously claimed asexuality were frauds altogether since males were around to assist in the reproduction.  The ram challenged Ms. Philodina that her claims for chastity were false and that it would be uncovered sooner or later.  Ms. Philodina however countered this by saying that the extensive variance in their genetic make-up is the so-called molecular stamp of ancient asexuality, and she went on further to present a copy of a science magazine where a study was featured declaring bdelloids as genuinely celibate and that no male rotifiers exist.  The pocket mouse then inferred that not having sex will make the bdelloid rotifiers future bleak.  Again Ms. Philodina argued against this contention because their species have always been adaptable, hence their continued existence.

Moby the puffer fish then raised the question of how bdelloid rotifiers got rid of harmful mutations.  Ms. Philodina answered that the effect of mutations among their group has not been quantified but perhaps it is in the low levels yet hence their lasting proliferation.  An ant and an armadillo raised similar questions pertaining to how the bdelloids avoid acquiring genes from infectious diseases.  Ms. Philodina pointed to the process of anhydrobiosis  said to be a state of suspended animation (Judson, 2002)  where the bdelloid is dried up and blown away, enabling them to travel to other safer locations.  At that point, Dr. Tatiana concluded the program.

The light, novel approach in which the scientific material is presented is commendable because the topic would have been a boring one if presented in the more formal and conventional manner.  The topic of sex is of course also a difficult topic to tackle and for the same reason, the jovial delivery of the material made the message easier to grasp.  The use of analogy, anecdotes, elucidations and references to historical and other related scientific terms and occurrences further made the material more relevant, significant but at the same time entertaining.  As a whole, it is a highly-informative material for  someone who would want to know more about bdelloid rotifiers.    


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