Is Inbreeding Always Bad? Why Mating With Your Family Can Be Both Good And Bad

Is inbreeding really all that bad? Although you may be quick to answer this question, the truth behind inbreeding is way more complicated that you might expect, as explained in a recent YouTube video by Gross Science.

Anna Rothschild, host of Gross Science, says for the most part, inbreeding is not beneficial to a species. Parents that are closely related have a higher chance of sharing the same recessive genes, and if you inherit two recessive genes, one from each parent, there is a risk of passing on possibly harmful traits to your offspring.

genetics The good and bad of inbreeding. Photo Courtesy of YouTube screenshot

In humans, incest is closely associated with sickly children. For example, recently it was revealed that King Tutankhamen of Ancient Egypt’s deformities and lifetime of illness and pain were the result of his parents being siblings.

However, while inbreeding may not be a good idea for humans, for other species, the practice is not nearly as dangerous. For example, according to Rothschild, while inbreeding increases the risk of passing on faulty genes, it also ensures the preservation of good genes within a population. And in nature, when the pros of inbreeding outnumber the cons, the behavior may become common practice. In addition, some species must inbreed out of necessity simply because they are unable to find suitable mates.

Interestingly, for some species, there is simply no preference, or very limited preference, for inbreeding. As explained by Rothschild, in some species of wasps, males only inherit one set of genes, that of their mother. Due to this, faulty recessive genes have nowhere to hide and are expressed within one generation. As a result, wasps with faulty genes usually do not survive long enough to reproduce and there is little to no risk to breed among close family members. Despite all this however, most animals, humans included, prefer more diverse gene pools.

Read More:

Kissing Cousins: Everything You (Didn't) Want To Know About Incest, And Why Inbreeding Isn't Actually As Dangerous As It Sounds: Read Here

King Tut’s 'Feminine Hips' Revealed: Pharaoh Suffered Several Afflictions Because His Parents Were Brother And Sister: Read Here

 

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