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


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 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 “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


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


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


We report that male pufferfishes (Torquigener sp., Tetraodontidae) constructed large geometric circular structures on the seabed that played an important role in female mate choice. Males dug valleys at various angles in a radial direction, constructing nests surrounded by radially aligned peaks and valleys. Furthermore, they created irregular patterns in the nest comprising fine sand particles. The circular structure not only influences female mate choice but also functions to gather fine sand particles in nests, which are important in female mate choice. Strangely enough, the males never reuse the nest, always constructing a new circular structure at the huge cost of construction. This is because the valleys may not contain sufficient fine sand particles for multiple reproductive cycles.

Concepts: Human, Male, Reproduction, Female, Hermaphrodite, Sand, Tetraodontidae, Torquigener


Male mammals often kill conspecific offspring. The benefits of such infanticide to males, and its costs to females, probably vary across mammalian social and mating systems. We used comparative analyses to show that infanticide primarily evolves in social mammals in which reproduction is monopolized by a minority of males. It has not promoted social counterstrategies such as female gregariousness, pair living, or changes in group size and sex ratio, but is successfully prevented by female sexual promiscuity, a paternity dilution strategy. These findings indicate that infanticide is a consequence, rather than a cause, of contrasts in mammalian social systems affecting the intensity of sexual conflict.

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


The sexes differ in how and when they allocate energy towards reproduction, but how this influences phenotypic plasticity in daily activity patterns is unclear. Here, we use collar-mounted light loggers and triaxial accelerometers to examine factors that affect time spent above ground and overall dynamic body acceleration (ODBA), an index of activity-specific energy expenditure, across the active season of free-living, semi-fossorial arctic ground squirrels (Urocitellus parryii). We found high day-to-day variability in time spent above ground and ODBA with most of the variance explained by environmental conditions known to affect thermal exchange. In both years, females spent more time below ground compared with males during parturition and early lactation; however, this difference was fourfold larger in the second year, possibly, because females were in better body condition. Daily ODBA positively correlated with time spent above ground in both sexes, but females were more active per unit time above ground. Consequently, daily ODBA did not differ between the sexes when females were early in lactation, even though females were above ground three to six fewer hours each day. Further, on top of having the additional burden of milk production, ODBA data indicate females also had fragmented rest patterns and were more active during late lactation. Our results indicate that sex differences in reproductive requirements can have a substantial influence on activity patterns, but the size of this effect may be dependent on capital resources accrued during gestation.

Concepts: Male, Reproduction, Female, Sexual dimorphism, Gender, Sex, Hermaphrodite, Secret Life


During courtship males attract females with elaborate behaviors. In mice, these displays include ultrasonic vocalizations. Ultrasonic courtship vocalizations were previously attributed to the courting male, despite evidence that both sexes produce virtually indistinguishable vocalizations. Because of this similarity, and the difficulty of assigning vocalizations to individuals, the vocal contribution of each individual during courtship is unknown. To address this question, we developed a microphone array system to localize vocalizations from socially interacting, individual adult mice. With this system, we show that female mice vocally interact with males during courtship. Males and females jointly increased their vocalization rates during chases. Furthermore, a female’s participation in these vocal interactions may function as a signal that indicates a state of increased receptivity. Our results reveal a novel form of vocal communication during mouse courtship, and lay the groundwork for a mechanistic dissection of communication during social behavior.

Concepts: Male, Female, Gender, Sociology, Sex, Gamete, Hermaphrodite