Part3 was about the the ultimate sexual merger: Symbiosis.
– Michel Serres
Life Superlives: On the Origins of Sex, Part 4
Sex Before Life
We end this series with a story from before the beginning.
Once upon a time,
biology tells us,
Before the superliving hypersex of symbiosis…
the Earth was teeming with bonds of sugars, phosphates, and nitrogenous substances.
These bonds, or ribonucleic acid (RNA), huddled into themselves, and stretched their ways throughout the surface of the planet.
For these molecules, language was form. When they encounter each other, they strained to understand each other through strange acts of translation. They wrapped themselves up into each other, and this act of language, this braiding of being, created new forms.
A mysterious correspondence: an exchange of material, packed with meaning. This was the exuberant world full of RNA, and this was the birth of sex.
This story provides us with a new and sideways answer to the old question of chicken and egg. Did two chickens having sex make the fertilized egg from which another chicken sprung?
Or did the first chicken spring from a pre-existing egg?
When we look into the origins of sex, we discover an unexpected truth.
Q. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan. Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan. Origins of Sex: Three Billion Years of Genetic Recombination. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.
Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan. What Is Sex? New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998.
Serres, Michel. Variations on the Body. Minneapolis: Univocal, 2012.