Rotifers are tiny aquatic creatures with options: They can have sex, or they can simply clone themselves. And this ability to go both ways has made them interesting subjects in the study of the evolution of sex.
Now scientists find when these animals are moved between varied environments, they became more likely to seek out a mate, rather than creating the next generation on their own, sans sex.
Why do scientists care? Because sex is messy and costly and is not the easiest way for organisms to propagate, so scientists have long wondered why it evolved at all from the original method — asexual reproduction, aka cloning.
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