Monday, 13 September 2010

"There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio..." Department

From New Scientist's Zoologger:
Changing sex is more common than you might think.
No kidding.
Many animals start out as one sex, and then change into the other part-way through their lives.
You don't say.
There are also plenty of animals that are both male and female at the same time.

But a few go one step further. They start out as one sex, and then transform into hermaphrodites.

The peppermint shrimp is one of these rare beasts. It gets its name from the red stripes that run along its translucent body, which make it look like a peppermint stick or candy cane.

It first matures as a male, and sometimes turns into a hermaphrodite with both male and female sexual organs. This lifestyle, named by an extreme-pronunciation enthusiast, is called protandric simultaneous hermaphroditism.
Protandrous, I think, but no matter. As in protandrous dichogamous pseudohermaphroditism. OK, that's weird. Another one to add to the collection of Natural Wonders that disprove many religions' contentions about "Natural Law".


Justine Valinotti said...

When I first started my transition, I was working with an older African-American woman who'd grown up in a rural area of South Carolina. She told me, "Anyone who's been around farm animals knows that it's not all 'boy-girl.'"

Mind you, she was also a prototypical "church lady."

Lloyd Flack said...

Well in the Cestoda (tapeworms segmentsare continually bein formed by budding from the head. Those near the head are male. As they move further away from the head they become female. Eventually they deveop into egg caes which break off. The male segments do fertilize the female ones of the same animal. They do fuck themselves.

wreckage said...

Yep, if you spend much time around animals you'll see a few with varying degrees of... well, whatever you call hermaphroditism in, say, sheep.

An odd thing: Christians technically don't believe the universe is divided into male and female principles or forces. But on this issue we seem to sound an awful lot like pagans: insisting that the cosmos itself, and thus souls, and thus persons, are irrevocably and eternally divided into two distinct types...

...which, for all the gender-role typing in the Old and New Testaments, is not Biblical.