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Sex
Sex is the trait that determines whether a sexually reproducing animal or plant produces male or female gametes. Male plants and animals produce smaller mobile gametes (spermatozoa, sperm, pollen), while females produce larger ones (ova, often called egg cells). Organisms that produce both types of gametes are called hermaphrodites. During sexual reproduction, male and female gametes fuse to form zygotes, which develop into offspring that inherit traits from each parent. Males and females of a species may have physical similarities (sexual monomorphism) or differences ( sexual dimorphism) that reflect various reproductive pressures on the respective sexes. Mate choice and sexual selection can accelerate the evolution of physical differences between the sexes. The terms ''male'' and ''female'' typically do not apply in sexually undifferentiated species in which the individuals are isomorphic (look the same) and the gametes are isogamous (indistinguishable in size ...
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Sexual Dimorphism
Sexual dimorphism is the condition where the sexes of the same animal and/or plant species exhibit different morphological characteristics, particularly characteristics not directly involved in reproduction. The condition occurs in most animals and some plants. Differences may include secondary sex characteristics, size, weight, colour, markings, or behavioural or cognitive traits. These differences may be subtle or exaggerated and may be subjected to sexual selection and natural selection. The opposite of dimorphism is ''monomorphism'', which is when both biological sexes are phenotypically indistinguishable from each other. Overview Ornamentation and coloration Common and easily identified types of dimorphism consist of ornamentation and coloration, though not always apparent. A difference in coloration of sexes within a given species is called sexual dichromatism, which is commonly seen in many species of birds and reptiles. Sexual selection leads to the exaggerated ...
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Sexual Selection
Sexual selection is a mode of natural selection in which members of one biological sex choose mates of the other sex to mate with (intersexual selection), and compete with members of the same sex for access to members of the opposite sex (intrasexual selection). These two forms of selection mean that some individuals have greater reproductive success than others within a population, for example because they are more attractive or prefer more attractive partners to produce offspring. Successful males benefit from frequent mating and monopolizing access to one or more fertile females. Females can maximise the return on the energy they invest in reproduction by selecting and mating with the best males. The concept was first articulated by Charles Darwin who wrote of a "second agency" other than natural selection, in which competition between mate candidates could lead to speciation. The theory was given a mathematical basis by Ronald Fisher in the early 20th century. Sex ...
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XY Sex-determination System
The XY sex-determination system is a sex-determination system used to classify many mammals, including humans, some insects (''Drosophila''), some snakes, some fish ( guppies), and some plants (''Ginkgo'' tree). In this system, the sex of an individual is determined by a pair of sex chromosomes. Females have two of the same kind of sex chromosome (XX), and are called the homogametic sex. Males have two different kinds of sex chromosomes (XY), and are called the heterogametic sex. In humans, the presence of the Y chromosome is responsible for triggering male development; in the absence of the Y chromosome, the fetus will undergo female development. There are various exceptions, such as individuals with Klinefelter syndrome (who have XXY chromosomes), Swyer syndrome (women with XY chromosomes), and XX male syndrome (men with XX chromosomes), however these exceptions are rare. In most species with XY sex determination, an organism must have at least one X chromosome in order to ...
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Sexual Reproduction
Sexual reproduction is a type of reproduction that involves a complex life cycle in which a gamete ( haploid reproductive cells, such as a sperm or egg cell) with a single set of chromosomes combines with another gamete to produce a zygote that develops into an organism composed of cells with two sets of chromosomes ( diploid). This is typical in animals, though the number of chromosome sets and how that number changes in sexual reproduction varies, especially among plants, fungi, and other eukaryotes. Sexual reproduction is the most common life cycle in multicellular eukaryotes, such as animals, fungi and plants. Sexual reproduction also occurs in some unicellular eukaryotes. Sexual reproduction does not occur in prokaryotes, unicellular organisms without cell nuclei, such bacteria and archaea. However, some process in bacteria may be considered analogous to sexual reproduction in that they incorporate new genetic information, including bacterial conjugation, transform ...
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Male
Male (symbol: ♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete (sex cell) known as sperm, which fuses with the larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male organism cannot reproduce sexually without access to at least one ovum from a female, but some organisms can reproduce both sexually and asexually. Most male mammals, including male humans, have a Y chromosome, which codes for the production of larger amounts of testosterone to develop male reproductive organs. Not all species share a common sex-determination system. In most animals, including humans, sex is determined genetically; however, species such as ''Cymothoa exigua'' change sex depending on the number of females present in the vicinity. In humans, the word ''male'' can also be used to refer to gender in the social sense of gender role or gender identity. Overview The existence of separate sexes has evolved independently at different times and in different lineages, an examp ...
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Mate Choice
Mate choice is one of the primary mechanisms under which evolution can occur. It is characterized by a "selective response by animals to particular stimuli" which can be observed as behavior.Bateson, Paul Patrick Gordon. "Mate Choice." Mate Choice, Cambridge University Press, 1985 In other words, before an animal engages with a potential mate, they first evaluate various aspects of that mate which are indicative of quality—such as the resources or phenotypes they have—and evaluate whether or not those particular trait(s) are somehow beneficial to them. The evaluation will then incur a response of some sort. These mechanisms are a part of evolutionary change because they operate in a way that causes the qualities that are desired in a mate to be more frequently passed on to each generation over time. For example, if female peacocks desire mates who have a colourful plumage, then this trait will increase in frequency over time as male peacocks with a colourful plumage will hav ...
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Female
Female (symbol: ♀) is the sex of an organism that produces the large non-motile ova (egg cells), the type of gamete (sex cell) that fuses with the male gamete during sexual reproduction. A female has larger gametes than a male. Females and males are results of the anisogamous reproduction system, wherein gametes are of different sizes, unlike isogamy where they are the same size. The exact mechanism of female gamete evolution remains unknown. In species that have males and females, sex-determination may be based on either sex chromosomes, or environmental conditions. Most female mammals, including female humans, have two X chromosomes. Female characteristics vary between different species with some species having pronounced secondary female sex characteristics, such as the presence of pronounced mammary glands in mammals. In humans, the word ''female'' can also be used to refer to gender in the social sense of gender role or gender identity. Etymology and usage ...
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Hermaphrodite
In reproductive biology, a hermaphrodite () is an organism that has both kinds of reproductive organs and can produce both gametes associated with male and female sexes. Many taxonomic groups of animals (mostly invertebrates) do not have separate sexes. In these groups, hermaphroditism is a normal condition, enabling a form of sexual reproduction in which either partner can act as the female or male. For example, the great majority of tunicates, pulmonate molluscs, opisthobranch, earthworms, and slugs are hermaphrodites. Hermaphroditism is also found in some fish species and to a lesser degree in other vertebrates. Most plants are also hermaphrodites. Animal species having different sexes, male and female, are called gonochoric, which is the opposite of hermaphrodite. There are also species where hermaphrodites exist alongside males (called androdioecy) or alongside females (called gynodioecy), or all three exist in the same species (called trioecy); these three sy ...
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Temperature-dependent Sex Determination
Temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) is a type of environmental sex determination in which the temperatures experienced during embryonic/larval development determine the sex of the offspring. It is only observed in reptiles and teleost fish. TSD differs from the chromosomal sex-determination systems common among vertebrates. It is the most studied type of environmental sex determination (ESD). Some other conditions, e.g. density, pH, and environmental background color, are also observed to alter sex ratio, which could be classified either as temperature-dependent sex determination or temperature-dependent sex differentiation, depending on the involved mechanisms. As sex-determining mechanisms, TSD and genetic sex determination (GSD) should be considered in an equivalent manner, which can lead to reconsidering the status of fish species that are claimed to have TSD when submitted to extreme temperatures instead of the temperature experienced during development in the wild ...
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Environmental Sex Determination
Environmental sex determination is the establishment of sex by a non-genetic cue, such as nutrient availability, experienced within a discrete period after fertilization. Environmental factors which often influence sex determination during development or sexual maturation include light intensity and photoperiod, temperature, nutrient availability, and pheromones emitted by surrounding plants or animals. This is in contrast to genotypic sex determination, which establishes sex at fertilization by genetic factors such as sex chromosomes. Under true environmental sex determination, once sex is determined, it is fixed and cannot be switched again. Environmental sex determination is different from some forms of sequential hermaphroditism in which the sex is determined flexibly after fertilization throughout the organism’s life. Adaptive Significance Environmental sex determination is similar to certain forms of sexual selection in that there are oftentimes different and opposing s ...
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Sex-determination System
A sex-determination system is a biological system that determines the development of sexual characteristics in an organism. Most organisms that create their offspring using sexual reproduction have two sexes. In some species there are hermaphrodites. There are also some species that are only one sex due to parthenogenesis, the act of a female reproducing without fertilization. In some species, sex determination is genetic: males and females have different alleles or even different genes that specify their sexual morphology. In animals this is often accompanied by chromosomal differences, generally through combinations of XY, ZW, XO, ZO chromosomes, or haplodiploidy. The sexual differentiation is generally triggered by a main gene (a "sex locus"), with a multitude of other genes following in a domino effect. In other cases, sex of a fetus is determined by environmental variables (such as temperature). The details of some sex-determination systems are not yet fully u ...
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ZW Sex-determination System
The ZW sex-determination system is a chromosomal system that determines the sex of offspring in birds, some fish and crustaceans such as the giant river prawn, some insects (including butterflies and moths), the schistosome family of flatworms, and some reptiles, e.g. majority of snakes, lacertid lizards and monitors including Komodo dragons. It is also used in some plants where it has probably evolved independently on several occasions. The letters Z and W are used to distinguish this system from the XY sex-determination system. In this system, females have a pair of dissimilar ZW chromosomes, and males have two similar ZZ chromosomes. In contrast to the XY sex-determination system and the X0 sex-determination system, where the sperm determines the sex, in the ZW system, the ovum determines the sex of the offspring. Males are the homogametic sex (ZZ), while females are the heterogametic sex (ZW). The Z chromosome is larger and has more genes, like the X chromosome in the ...
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