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Both mitosis and meiosis are mechanisms that describe cell division. The difference is particularly noticeable when one looks at the DNA in the cell's nucleus. After mitosis, each of the daughter cells will have exact same DNA strands, while after meiosis each daughter cell will only have half of the DNA strands. (Sometimes the division is not exactly half/half, but that is not important for this answer). 

Because meiosis only has half the information that the parent cell had, the cell is (as far as we know) unable to reproduce by itself. The reason for meiosis is for reproduction of a multi-cellular organism as well as genetic diversity due to crossing over. One daughter cell (from the male of the species) will try to find a compatible daughter cell (from the female of the species) and fertilize it. This then becomes and embryo and the specie has successfully reproduced. And this is how you, the reader, came into existence. 

Other characteristics:

  • Parent cell - full set of chromosomes in both mitosis and meiosis (2n).
  • Number of divisions - mitosis 1; meiosis 2.
  • Chromosome number of daughter cells - mitosis full set (2n) and meiosis half set (n).
  • Crossing over - mitosis no; meiosis yes
  • Paired homologues - mitosis no; meiosis yes
  • DNA of daughter cells - mitosis identical to parent; meiosis daughter cells different
  • Number of DNA replications - mitosis 1; meiosis 2
  • Number of daughter cells - mitosis 2; meiosis 4
  • Type of cells - mitosis somatic; meiosis sex cells
"What are the similarities and differences between mitosis and meiosis?" WIKI.ANSWERS.COM.  19 November 2013 <>
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