Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Animals Literally Half Male And Half Female

A gynandromorph is an organism that contains both male and female characteristics.  These characteristics can be seen in butterflies, where both male and female characteristics can be seen physically because of sexual dimorphism. Cases of gynandromorphism have also been reported in crustaceans, especially lobsters, sometimes crabs and even in birds.

Scientists solve half-cock chicken mystery

Bilateral gynandromorphism chicken-sex-cells-hybridThe left, white, side of this bird is male. The right, brown, side is female.link


Researchers say they've solved the mystery of why some chickens hatch out half-male and half-female.
About one in every 10,000 chickens is gynandromorphous, to use the technical term. In medieval times, they might have been burned at the stake, as witches' familiars.

gynandromorph chicken half men and half womenlink

A gynandromorph chicken looks lopsided due to the differing structure of muscle mass in hens and roosters. As well, the average gynandromorph chicken will typically have a spur on the male half’s foot but not on the female half’s foot. Do gynandromorph chickens crow with the sunrise? Maybe just a little… we can forgive them for going off half cocked.


Gynandromorph Lobster

Gynandromorph LobsterNationalGeographic - link

Batman fans will remember Two-Face, the villain with a mug that's half handsome and half gruesome. Recently a Maine lobsterman caught a different kind of two-faced prey—a lobster that looks half raw and half cooked. First noted in 1730, gynandromorph lobsters are extremely rare – they do attract notice, however, because the condition is often (but not always) characterized and/or accompanied by the male and female halves sporting different colors.

Gynandromorph Lobster 02link

Gynandromorph Lobster 01link

Female lobsters produce eggs whether they’ve mated or not; a gynandromorph lobster was once captured in the wild carrying half the usual complement of eggs. The lobsterman who found the creature donated it to the Maine Department of Marine Resources who monitored the eggs. Though only two eggs were observed to hatch, one of the larvae was male and the other was female.

Gynandromorph Butterfly

Gynandromorph Butterflylink

Butterflies are among the most frequently noticed gynandromorphs, owing to the creatures’ oft-exaggerated sexual dimorphism – that is, male and female butterflies of the same species can differ greatly in both size and coloration.

david-child-butterfly p3-butterfly
Children from The Russell School in Richmond with Sir David Attenborough are charmed by a swallowtail at the Big Butterfly Count launch in our butterfly house this morning.


Since butterflies display their brightest colors on their wings, marked asymmetry in the color and patterning of the wing scales is easily noticed from a distance by both human observers and hungry predators.

Gynandromorphic House Sparrows

gynandromorph-house-sparrow-triGynandromorphic House Sparrow observed in Catalonia, Spain © J.C. Abella/Revista Catalana d’Ornitologia

There was a taleJ.C. Abella, 2002 of two probably gynandromorphic House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) in two cities in Catalonia, Spain encountered during banding surveys in the late 90s. These again, exemplify the relatively more rare case of male markings on the left and female phenotype on the right.

gynandromorph-rose-breasted-grosbeakA gynandromorphic Rose-breased Grosbeak in transitional plumage, as indicated by the red wing lining on the right (male) side only. © Robert Mulvihill and Adrienne Leppold/Powdermill ARC

Gynandromorph Crab

Gynandromorph Crablink

One claw two claw red claw blue claw… now hold on a sec, Blue Crab males have blue claws while Blue Crab females have red claws. What to make of a Blue Crab with one blue claw and one red claw, like the one caught by waterman Dave Johnson (above) in a crab pot off the coast of Gwynn’s Island, Virginia on May 21st of 2005?


The crab, called a "bilateral gynandromorph," is split right down the middle—its right half female and its left half male.

Gynandromorph Spider

gynandromorph spiderlink

This is a spider from my captive groups. Some of you might find this interesting. It is a gynandromorph Poecilotheria subfusca, meaning that it is half male and half female. Aren’t spiders creepy enough without adding gynandromorphism to the mix? Actually, arachnids aren’t creepy at all – it’s all in your head, or ON your head if you don’t watch where you’re going!

gynandromorph spider 01link


Spiders don’t exhibit as much sexual dimorphism as some insects (and spiders aren’t insects, trivia buffs) but gynandromorphs are still quite obvious even without an up-close-and-personal inspection.

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