Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Hermaphrodite


The objective of this study has been to confirm the sex and the affinity of an individual buried in a well-furnished warrior grave (Bj 581) in the Viking Age town of Birka, Sweden. Previously, based on the material and historical records, the male sex has been associated with the gender of the warrior and such was the case with Bj 581. An earlier osteological classification of the individual as female was considered controversial in a historical and archaeological context. A genomic confirmation of the biological sex of the individual was considered necessary to solve the issue.

Concepts: Genetics, Male, Female, Sexual dimorphism, Gender, Sex, Gamete, Hermaphrodite


As an important extrinsic source of mortality, harvest should select for fast reproduction and accelerated life histories. However, if vulnerability to harvest depends upon female reproductive status, patterns of selectivity could diverge and favor alternative reproductive behaviors. Here, using more than 20 years of detailed data on survival and reproduction in a hunted large carnivore population, we show that protecting females with dependent young, a widespread hunting regulation, provides a survival benefit to females providing longer maternal care. This survival gain compensates for the females' reduced reproductive output, especially at high hunting pressure, where the fitness benefit of prolonged periods of maternal care outweighs that of shorter maternal care. Our study shows that hunting regulation can indirectly promote slower life histories by modulating the fitness benefit of maternal care tactics. We provide empirical evidence that harvest regulation can induce artificial selection on female life history traits and affect demographic processes.

Concepts: Human, Male, Reproduction, Female, Life, Reproductive system, Hermaphrodite, Selection


BACKGROUND: Sexual system is a key factor affecting the genetic diversity, population structure, genome structure and the evolutionary potential of species. The sexual system androdioecy – where males and hermaphrodites coexist in populations – is extremely rare, yet is found in three crustacean groups, barnacles, a genus of clam shrimps Eulimnadia, and in the order Notostraca, the tadpole shrimps. In the ancient crustacean order Notostraca, high morphological conservatism contrasts with a wide diversity of sexual systems, including androdioecy. An understanding of the evolution of sexual systems in this group has been hampered by poor phylogenetic resolution and confounded by the widespread occurrence of cryptic species. Here we use a multigene supermatrix for 30 taxa to produce a comprehensive phylogenetic reconstruction of Notostraca. Based on this phylogenetic reconstruction we use character mapping techniques to investigate the evolution of sexual systems. We also tested the hypothesis that reproductive assurance has driven the evolution of androdioecy in Notostraca. RESULTS: Character mapping analysis showed that sexual system is an extremely flexible trait within Notostraca, with repeated shifts between gonochorism and androdioecy, the latter having evolved a minimum of five times. In agreement with the reproductive assurance hypothesis androdioecious notostracans are found at significantly higher latitudes than gonochoric ones indicating that post glacial re-colonisation may have selected for the higher colonisation ability conferred by androdioecy. CONCLUSIONS: In contrast to their conserved morphology, sexual system in Notostraca is highly labile and the rare reproductive mode androdioecy has evolved repeatedly within the order. Furthermore, we conclude that this lability of sexual system has been maintained for at least 250 million years and may have contributed to the long term evolutionary persistence of Notostraca. Our results further our understanding of the evolution of androdioecy and indicate that reproductive assurance is a recurrent theme involved in the evolution of this sexual system.

Concepts: Evolution, Biology, Organism, Species, Crustacean, Hermaphrodite, Branchiopoda, Notostraca


Anurans show the highest diversity in reproductive modes of all vertebrate taxa, with a variety of associated breeding behaviours. One striking feature of anuran reproduction is amplexus. During this process, in which the male clasps the female, both individuals' cloacae are juxtaposed to ensure successful external fertilization. Several types of amplexus have evolved with the diversification of anurans, and secondary loss of amplexus has been reported in a few distantly related taxa. Within Nyctibatrachus, a genus endemic to the Western Ghats of India, normal axillary amplexus, a complete loss of amplexus, and intermediate forms of amplexus have all been suggested to occur, but many species remain unstudied. Here, we describe the reproductive behaviour of N. humayuni, including a new type of amplexus. The dorsal straddle, here defined as a loose form of contact in which the male sits on the dorsum of the female prior to oviposition but without clasping her, is previously unreported for anurans. When compared to known amplexus types, it most closely resembles the form of amplexus observed in Mantellinae. Furthermore, we prove that, opposed to the situation in most anurans, male semen release happens before egg deposition. We hypothesize that the male ejaculates on the female’s dorsum and that sperm subsequently runs from her back and hind legs before fertilizing the eggs. A second feature characterizing anuran breeding is the advertisement call, mostly produced solely by males. Despite recent descriptions of several new Nyctibatrachus species, few studies have explored their vocal repertoire. We describe both the male advertisement call and a female call for N. humayuni. The presence of a female call has not been reported within Nyctibatrachidae, and has been reported in less than 0.5% of anuran species. Altogether, our results highlight a striking diversity and several unique aspects of Nyctibatrachus breeding behaviour.

Concepts: Human, Male, Reproduction, Female, Sperm, Spermatozoon, Semen, Hermaphrodite


The objective of this pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility of conducting a larger prospective cohort study, which will aim at determining the independent contribution of male and female lifestyle-related factors to assisted reproductive technology (ART) success. The study also examined whether couples seeking fertility treatments present lifestyle-related factors that may interfere with their reproductive health.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Human, Male, Reproduction, Female, Demography, Spermatozoon, Hermaphrodite


The causes underlying sex differences in lifespan are strongly debated. While females commonly outlive males in humans, this is generally less pronounced in societies before the demographic transition to low mortality and fertility rates. Life-history theory suggests that reduced reproduction should benefit female lifespan when females pay higher costs of reproduction than males. Using unique longitudinal demographic records on 140,600 reproducing individuals from the Utah Population Database, we demonstrate a shift from male-biased to female-biased adult lifespans in individuals born before versus during the demographic transition. Only women paid a cost of reproduction in terms of shortened post-reproductive lifespan at high parities. Therefore, as fertility decreased over time, female lifespan increased, while male lifespan remained largely stable, supporting the theory that differential costs of reproduction in the two sexes result in the shifting patterns of sex differences in lifespan across human populations. Further, our results have important implications for demographic forecasts in human populations and advance our understanding of lifespan evolution.

Concepts: Human, Male, Reproduction, Female, Demography, Gender, Sex, Hermaphrodite


The National Institute on Aging Interventions Testing Program (ITP) evaluates agents hypothesized to increase healthy lifespan in genetically heterogeneous mice. Each compound is tested in parallel at three sites, and all results are published. We report the effects of lifelong treatment of mice with four agents not previously tested: Protandim, fish oil, ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) and metformin - the latter with and without rapamycin, and two drugs previously examined: 17-α-estradiol and nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA), at doses greater and less than used previously. 17-α-estradiol at a threefold higher dose robustly extended both median and maximal lifespan, but still only in males. The male-specific extension of median lifespan by NDGA was replicated at the original dose, and using doses threefold lower and higher. The effects of NDGA were dose dependent and male specific but without an effect on maximal lifespan. Protandim, a mixture of botanical extracts that activate Nrf2, extended median lifespan in males only. Metformin alone, at a dose of 0.1% in the diet, did not significantly extend lifespan. Metformin (0.1%) combined with rapamycin (14 ppm) robustly extended lifespan, suggestive of an added benefit, based on historical comparison with earlier studies of rapamycin given alone. The α-glucosidase inhibitor, acarbose, at a concentration previously tested (1000 ppm), significantly increased median longevity in males and 90th percentile lifespan in both sexes, even when treatment was started at 16 months. Neither fish oil nor UDCA extended lifespan. These results underscore the reproducibility of ITP longevity studies and illustrate the importance of identifying optimal doses in lifespan studies.

Concepts: Male, Female, Gender, Dose, Sex, Mixture, Gamete, Hermaphrodite


The “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” test (Eyes test) is an advanced test of theory of mind. Typical sex difference has been reported (i.e., female advantage). Individuals with autism show more difficulty than do typically developing individuals, yet it remains unclear how this is modulated by sex, as females with autism have been under-represented. Here in a large, non-male-biased sample we test for the effects of sex, diagnosis, and their interaction. The Eyes test (revised version) was administered online to 395 adults with autism (178 males, 217 females) and 320 control adults (152 males, 168 females). Two-way ANOVA showed a significant sex-by-diagnosis interaction in total correct score (F(1,711) = 5.090, p = 0.024, ηp2 = 0.007) arising from a significant sex difference between control males and females (p < 0.001, Cohen's d = 0.47), and an absence of a sex difference between males and females with autism (p = 0.907, d = 0.01); significant case-control differences were observed across sexes, with effect sizes of d = 0.35 in males and d = 0.69 in females. Group-difference patterns fit with the extreme-male-brain (EMB) theory predictions. Eyes test-Empathy Quotient and Eyes test-Autism Spectrum Quotient correlations were significant only in females with autism (r = 0.35, r = -0.32, respectively), but not in the other 3 groups. Support vector machine (SVM) classification based on response pattern across all 36 items classified autism diagnosis with a relatively higher accuracy for females (72.2%) than males (65.8%). Nevertheless, an SVM model trained within one sex generalized equally well when applied to the other sex. Performance on the Eyes test is a sex-independent phenotypic characteristic of adults with autism, reflecting sex-common social difficulties, and provides support for the EMB theory predictions for both males and females. Performance of females with autism differed from same-sex controls more than did that of males with autism. Females with autism also showed stronger coherence between self-reported dispositional traits and Eyes test performance than all other groups.

Concepts: Male, Female, Sexual dimorphism, Gender, Sex, Autism, Gamete, Hermaphrodite


Although many studies have shown that there are trade-offs between longevity and reproduction, whether such trade-offs exist in humans has been a matter of debate [1,2]. In many species, including humans, males live shorter than females, which could be due to the action of male sex hormones. Castration, which removes the source of male sex hormones, prolongs male lifespan in many animals, but this issue has been debated in humans [3]. To examine the effects of castration on longevity, we analyzed the lifespan of historical Korean eunuchs. Korean eunuchs preserved their lineage by adopting castrated boys. We studied the genealogy records of Korean eunuchs and determined the lifespan of 81 eunuchs. The average lifespan of eunuchs was 70.0 ± 1.76 years, which was 14.4-19.1 years longer than the lifespan of non-castrated men of similar socio-economic status. Our study supports the idea that male sex hormones decrease the lifespan of men.

Concepts: Human, Male, Reproduction, Female, Gender, Sex, Hermaphrodite, Boy


Not including female rats or mice in neuroscience research has been justified due to the variable nature of female data caused by hormonal fluctuations associated with the female reproductive cycle. In this study, we investigated whether female rats are more variable than male rats in scientific reports of neuroscience-related traits.

Concepts: Human, Male, Reproduction, Female, Science, Menstrual cycle, Rat, Hermaphrodite