If we can engineer the extinction of a whole species of mosquitos with male-only-offspring genetic mutation, how come such scenario never happened naturally in the past to other species? Or has it?

  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean exactly by engineering a species with male-only-offspring genetic mutation? $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Jun 20, 2017 at 14:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't think you can make the population extinct this way. Individuals whose genetics allow them to have female offspring would be hugely favored evolutionary. You might drastically reduce the population, you might drastically reduce the incidence of mosquitoes biting humans, but I don't think you'll achieve extinction. $\endgroup$
    – swbarnes2
    Jun 21, 2017 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ @swbarnes2 what mechanism would favour the unmodified individuals?Your comment is not answering this. $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2017 at 15:35

1 Answer 1


It has happened the R2D2 mutation in mice is famous for it, the mutation prevents or drastically reduces female offspring. It can wipe out entire populations when it shows up, it doesn't wipe out the species becasue there are frankly too many mice, separated by too much distance, while breeding too fast for the gene to spread fast enough before the population crashes. If mice happened to live on only one island however they would be gone. These events are called selfish sweeps or selective sweeps that result from a transmission bias in a gene.

the opposite can also occur (female only) however this is slighly less likely to lead to instant extinction since a possible out exists. Lepidodactylus lugubris(a gecko) being a famous example and is a female only species that reproduced through parthenogenesis. These types of species are exceedingly rare and have problems however as they are very vulnerable to disease since they have low diversity. Species like this are driven extinct indirectly by the mutation that led to a female only species as their diversity sufferers drastically so disease or environmental change can wipe them out more easily.

  • $\begingroup$ The link appears to be broken. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    May 20, 2018 at 4:11
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer try it now. $\endgroup$
    – John
    May 20, 2018 at 4:14

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