Imagine that one day all human males down to unborn fetuses all ceased to be. All that was left for propagation of humanity is all the woman and the stocks of the worlds sperm banks.
Would there be enough sperm to ensure a healthy recovery for humanity?
I’m making the safe assumption that women would be able to cope physically with the devastation caused by the sudden loss of close to half of the human race from all places, all walks of life and all generations. There are enough women in all occupations (at least in the developed world) that society could still function with experienced leaders, administrators, and service providers of all types. Even areas generally dominated by men such as fire fighters would be adequately filled by women out of necessity. It would be Rosie the Riveter writ globally.
But maintaining biodiversity and the threat of inbreeding might require the enactment of draconian measures in regards to the use of sperm stocks. The first generation of in vitro kids would have to know that their dad is “Smith462” from the Springfield clinic or “George1138” from California to prevent half-siblings from mixing. Women might have to be ranked for eligibility to receive a kid, at least for the first generation. Stocks might have to be distributed between banks to ensure that the multiple offspring of “JDoe782” stay separated enough to prevent mating. A different approach might be to require that no one can breed with someone who was born closer than 500 miles to their own birth site.
After the first generation of new kids is born and begin breeding, things might become more complicated. Now you’d have the chance of first cousins accidentally meeting and mating. And it could be a good chance if there were insufficient stocks to begin with.
I may chime in with other thoughts, but I leave it to you dopers. What are your thoughts?
I guess I would have to wonder if inbreeding is really as bad as people think it is. There’s the gross factor, sure. But physiologically, is it a death sentence? I mean, how do you think we all got here?
Well, societies inbreed to an extent. French people generally with other french, spanish with spanish, etc… But those are large populations with enough diversity to generally prevent recessive genes becoming a problem. But inbreeding can be a real problem for the offspring. A LOT of nasty conditions are genetic in origin and you really don’t want the carriers for those genes interbreeding even as distant cousins. So there needs to be a large enough population to reduce the chances of such carriers to insignifigant levels. I’m just wondering if current stocks can accomplish this.
As far I know (and I have this from history books, not biology books, so take it for what it is) inbreeding is only a problem after a while. Say, if cousins marry once, in one generation, thats usually not a problem, unless the family is a carrier of some hereditary disorder. If it happens in generation two as well, not to mention generation three…well, the chance of funny babies goes through the roof.
The reason most people think “cousins marrying”=“children with three eyes and no head”, is that we hear the word “inbreeding” mostly in relation to purebred dogs. Inbreeding is a bigger problem in, say, a german shepperd, than it is in a human, because most german shepperds are already as inbred as they can get without violating some breeding regulation or other, so actual inbreeding will show up fast.
So that means that if two grandchildren of “Joey678Ohio” accidentally had a child, that child would probably be just fine. If that happened a lot, well…lets just say keeping records would be a good idea.
While your average sperm bank may only have a small number of anonymous donors (the one I worked in had about 30-40 active at any one time and probably 150 overall), they also stored several thousand other samples.
The vast majority of business at a sperm bank isn’t ‘people who want donor sperm for children’, but rather ‘people who are going to have fertility-impairing procedures and want to have children in the future’.
So the bottleneck isn’t as small as it might seem. Even if you only had one sperm bank per state and each sperm bank had only 1,000 samples, that would still be 50,000 different men in the US alone. Other developed countries would also have many, many samples.