Meiosis serves a different purpose than mitosis, as it is the method by which sex cells divide, as opposed to mitosis, which is the method by which body cells divide. In mitosis, the daughter cells have the same number of chromosomes as the parent cell does. By contrast, the daughter cells that result from meiosis have half as many chromosomes as the parent cell does.
The vast majority of cells in an animal’s body undergo the process of mitosis, while only a handful undergo meiosis. Cells that make the organism’s body, called somatic or body cells, divide into two carbon copies of their parent cell, except for any mutations that take place. Meiosis only applies to sex cells, which are also called gametes. Because gametes will eventually combine with a gamete from another animal, each carries only half of the chromosomes as a normal cell does. In this way, the two gametes each contribute half of the DNA for an offspring.
Male and female organisms produce different types of gametes. Male organisms produce sperm cells while female organisms produce ova, or egg cells. The exact manner by which different organisms undergo mitosis and meiosis varies to suit the species needs.