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Mar 7 17 12:10 AM

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I found the following Nature article via Facebook. It goes deeper into the development of "morphs" of animals. Quite a few species have several variants of male (and/or female), often males that look more like females. Their existence was largely ignored by zoologists, as their existence threatened the colorful, aggressive and strong male vs. the bland, passive and weak female narrative. New research, however, has thrown new light upon the phenomenon.

I am not saying that gender variance in humans iscaused by morphs. But the existence of morphs among birds and mammals tells us that gender is not as clear cut and binary as many believe.

See also: http://www.crossdreamers.com/2009/12/transgender-animals.html

The sparrow with four sexes (on white-throated sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis)
The mutation had flipped a large section of chromosome 2, leaving it unable to pair up with a partner and exchange genetic information. The more than 1,100 genes in the inversion were inherited together as part of a massive 'supergene' and eventually drove the evolution of two different 'morphs' — subtypes of the bird that are coloured differently, behave differently and mate only with the opposite morph. Tuttle and Gonser's leap was to show that this process is nearly identical to the early evolution of certain sex chromosomes, including the human X and Y. The researchers realized that they were effectively watching the bird evolve two sex chromosomes, on top of the two it already had.


“This bird acts like it has four sexes,” says Christopher Balakrishnan, an evolutionary biologist at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, who worked with Tuttle and Gonser. “One individual can only mate with one-quarter of the population. There are very few sexual systems with more than two sexes.” ...

 The tan-striped birds are poor at singing, monogamous and fiercely protect their hatchlings from predators such as raccoons and snakes. The white-striped ones are aggressive, promiscuous, more cavalier about their offspring, and tuneful: Gonser says that they produce a more operatic refrain of oh-sweet-Canada. White-striped birds seem to mate only with tan-striped ones — a relatively unusual phenomenon called disassortative mating (see 'Opposites attract'). Tuttle became interested; why do the two morphs behave in this way?

 
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Last Edited By: jackmolay Mar 7 17 12:24 AM. Edited 1 time

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Mar 8 17 5:35 AM

"Morph-y"  animals.  Now how did I miss this thread before?

Birds in the air and fish in the sea have the most variations.  Now on land, there are insects and plants that are blatant hermaphrodites, non-apologetic to the offensive label.  Recently, I've been collecting plants that cross between being plants and animals: carnivorous plants.  I'm going to look into self-pollinating plants and those beautiful hermaphroditic worms.  

Last Edited By: lal2828 Mar 8 17 5:38 AM. Edited 1 time.

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Mar 12 17 2:39 AM

Jen,

I like to say that God is a DJ, remixing and mashing-up whatever She has at hand, creating something new every day. Given that there are 200 billion stars in our Galaxy and more than 100 billion galaxies in the universe I guess She has more than enough material to make use of!


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