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Ever wonder about who you are? Do you spend rainy days pondering what if I’d been someone one else? What if during my parent’s unmentionable liaison there had been a slight shift and I’d ended up much different? Well, first off relax. Second, scientists think they might have found a clue in unlocking why some of us are boys and other girls. It has to do with a virus from a million years ago.

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Scientists from Yale have discovered that if you turn off a certain genetic modification it can counteract the effect of the virus and change the ratio of genders in mice.

The virus in question is thought to have come into our genome at around 1.5 million years ago.

“Researchers discovered that a particular mechanism works to ‘turn off’ this virus on the X chromosome. The X chromosome will remain active if the molecular marker is at a normal level, meaning females and males will be born at an equal ratio. If the marker is over-represented, however, the X chromosomes will be silenced, and males will be born twice as often as females. The remnants of these viral duplications often remain inactive, but researchers say examples such as this can drive mammalian evolution.” [Daily Mail]

Okay, you might be saying, what does this have to do with me? Well, the other key discovery in all this is the fact that the active form of the virus is also found in cancer and might lead to new treatments. All in all some good, weird news to start your week.

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