Genetics: What Are Little Boys & Girls Made Of? (cont.)
One can speculate as to the evolutionary basis for
this disparity. Even without active genes for social skills, would
males in a hunter-gatherer culture have been at a disadvantage?
Did a man need social skills to chase down and kill a wild animal?
On the other hand, genes determining social skills might be useful
to women working together around the campsite in a cooperative
fashion, performing tasks such as cooking, making clothes, and
The report in Nature is first-authored
by Dr. David H. Skuse from the Institute of Child Health in London.
Dr. Skuse is one of ten authors of this study. The last -listed
author is Dr. Patricia A. Jacobs. (Together with the first author,
the last author is traditionally considered most important to
the research). Dr. Jacobs is a senior chromosome scientist of
The Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Natalie Angier
noted in The New York Times on June 12 that not all researchers
are buying into this association between a sex chromosome and
behavior. For instance, Dr. Evan S. Balaban of the Neurosciences
Institute in San Diego pointed out to Ms. Angier that, "one
of the scientists on the current report had been an author on
a study in 1965" which associated "violent criminal
behavior" with XYY, an extra Y sex chromosome in males, an
association that "proved to be statistically spurious."
The scientist to whom Dr. Balaban alluded is clearly Dr. Jacobs.
However, because a 1965 study failed to hold up to follow-up research
is no reason at all why a 1997 study might not be right on the
Time will tell whether modern genetics has found
the basis for an old nursery rhyme.
For more information, please visit the TURNER'S SYNDROME site of MedicineNet.