Do These Hybrid Ants Have ‘Four Sexes’?
Why “symmetrical social hybridogenesis” ant colonies do not have four sexes.
About the Author
Dr. Colin Wright is an evolutionary biology PhD, Manhattan Institute Fellow, Academic Advisor at the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine (SEGM), and Founding Editor of Reality’s Last Stand.
Wright received his PhD in evolutionary biology from UC Santa Barbara in 2018, and was an Eberly Research Fellow at Penn State from 2018 to 2020. He is an expert on the biology of sex and the evolutionary behavioral ecology of collective behavior in social insects and arachnids. His writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Times, the New York Post, Newsweek, City Journal, Quillette, Queer Majority, and other major news outlets and peer-reviewed science journals. He has been a guest on popular TV shows and podcasts such as The Joe Rogan Experience, Tucker Carlson Tonight, Triggernometry, and others.
The pseudoscientific denial of the binary nature of sex has reached a fever pitch, with “scientific” studies being published in peer reviewed journals purporting to offer newer, more precise, and notably more “inclusive” ways to view biological sex. One such paper, by McLaughlin and colleagues, appeared in Integrative & Comparative Biology, a journal by Oxford University Press, titled “Multivariate Models of Animal Sex: Breaking Binaries Leads to a Better Understanding of Ecology and Evolution.” The authors argue that “sex” is “a constructed category operating at multiple biological levels.” The outdated “binary” view of sex, they argue, “enact[s] harm on marginalized communities.”
I provided a detailed critique of this paper’s pre-print version last March here on Reality’s Last Stand, and published a condensed version in City Journal. I had hoped that journal editors and reviewers who were evaluating this paper might see my review, and either include my objections in their reviews or reject the paper for its pseudoscientific content. Regrettably, my efforts did not prevent its publication in a respected journal.
Part of my critique delved into several “case studies” that the authors cited as instances of species having “more than two sexes.” They mentioned the White-throated sparrows (Z. albicollis) and hybrid Pogonomyrmex ants as concrete examples of species purported to have four sexes. While I briefly countered these claims to argue that they aren’t illustrative of species with four sexes, a more comprehensive rebuttal is warranted. And that’s what I aim to deliver in pair of articles.
This piece will specifically address the claim from the McLaughlin “multivariate sex” paper that hybrid Pogonomyrmex ant colonies “requires three sexes to operate, and four to persist beyond a single generation.”
Such a statement is indeed extraordinary, and as Carl Sagan’s adage goes, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. Not only have I studied social insects, including ants, during my tenure as an academic scientist, but I also served as the lead author on the most comprehensive academic review paper on collective behavior in social insects and arachnids to date (as of this writing). Therefore, if there were hybrid ants with three or four sexes, I am confident I would have been aware of these remarkable creatures.
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