In the life cycle of a diploid animal, the process that produces haploid gametes is called meiosis. Meiosis is a specialized type of cell division that occurs in the reproductive organs of organisms, resulting in the formation of gametes with half the number of chromosomes as the parent cell. This reduction in chromosome number is essential for sexual reproduction, as it ensures that when two gametes fuse during fertilization, the resulting zygote will have the correct diploid chromosome number.

Meiosis consists of two successive divisions, known as meiosis I and meiosis II. The process begins with a single diploid cell, which contains two sets of chromosomes—one set inherited from each parent. During meiosis I, homologous chromosomes pair up and exchange genetic material through a process called crossing over. This genetic recombination increases genetic diversity among the resulting gametes. The homologous chromosomes then separate and are distributed into two separate daughter cells, each containing half the original number of chromosomes.

Following meiosis I, the two daughter cells enter meiosis II, where each cell undergoes a division similar to mitosis. The sister chromatids of each chromosome are separated, resulting in the formation of four haploid daughter cells, each with a unique combination of genetic material. These haploid cells are the gametes—sperm in males and eggs in females—that are used in sexual reproduction.

Overall, meiosis is crucial for maintaining genetic diversity within a population and ensuring the proper ploidy level in sexually reproducing organisms. By producing haploid gametes from diploid precursor cells, meiosis enables the formation of genetically distinct offspring through fertilization and contributes to the overall genetic variability of a species.

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