In the realm of genetic anomalies found in living organisms perhaps none is more visually striking than bilateral gynandromorphism, a condition where an animal or insect contains both male and female characteristics, evenly split, right down the middle. While cases have been reported in lobsters, crabs and even in birds, it seems butterflies and moths lucked out with the visual splendor of having both male and female wings as a result of the anomaly. For those interested in the science, here’s a bit from Elise over at IFLScience:
In insects the mechanism is fairly well understood. A fly with XX chromosomes will be a female. However, an embryo that loses a Y chromosome still develops into what looks like an adult male, although it will be sterile. It’s thought that bilateral gynandromorphism occurs when two sperm enter an egg. One of those sperm fuses with the nucleus of the egg and a female insect develops. The other sperm develops without another set of chromosomes within the same egg. Both a male and a female insect develop within the same body.
Above are some great examples of bilateral gynandromorphism, but follow the links above and below for many more.
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