Scientists say the gene which determines sex in an embryo could be on the way out, after discovering that it's becoming weaker.
Experts are putting forward a theory that, over the past 160 million years, the 'Y' chromosome contained within the SRY Gene - the sex determining region- is getting shorter.
Girls and women typically have two X chromosomes (XX), while boys and men usually have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome.
For some strange reason, that we can't seem to completely explain, those two chromosomes can't mutually exchange repair mechanism and that means they start to diverge a little bit.— Darren Griffin, Professor of Genetics at University of Kent
So one of them start to lose a little bit of DNA and when it start losing DNA that's sets it around a big cycle, such that more loss leads to more loss and we find ourselves in a situation that we are in at the moment.— Darren Griffin, Professor of Genetics at University of Kent
But Griffin is says the discovery doesn't mean that men are facing extinction. He says it is possible that the SRY gene (which determines whether an embryo will develop as female or male) could simply evolve their X and Y to a different chromosome.
We study these things because we thing it's interesting, but what it means in terms of male and female is literally nothing. We really don't need to worry.— Darren Griffin, Professor of Genetics at University of Kent
To hear the rest of the conversation with Professor Darren Griffin, listen below: