Are Men Necessary?

By Annalee Newitz

Scientists in Norway have discovered that male-dominated societies are doomed to extinction.

The way it happened was that somewhere at a university in Oslo, a bunch of researchers decided to perform a rather mean experiment on a bunch of lizards. They created a group of lizards whose population was three-quarters male, then another that was three-quarters female, and compared the behavior of both to a control group with gender balance.

It turns out that when male lizards are in the majority, female lizards die younger, have fewer babies, and receive two to three times as many wounds from male lizards during the mating process. Over time, the population skews more and more male and shrinks precipitously. Eventually, the researchers speculate, a male-dominated lizard group would simply die out. They call this process an "extinction vortex." Female-dominated lizard groups, on the other hand, are models of happy cooperation, growing larger and flourishing over time.