Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why don't we all do it?

One of the cool things about biology is that as soon as you come up with a satisfactory explanation for an apparently strange phenomenon (eg gender change in some species) you have new question - if it's such a good idea why don't more species do it?

This is exactly the question asked by Yale University researchers:
Why Don’t More Animals Change Their Sex?
While the adaptive advantage of sex change is well understood, it is not clear why relatively few animals change sex. According to Alonzo, “An intuitive, yet rarely studied, explanation is that the considerable time or energy it takes to change sex make hermaphroditism unfeasible for most animals.”

Others have pointed out the errors in Finding Nemo eg:

Clownfish, of Finding Nemo fame, are a good example of a protandrous hermaphrodite: the largest individual fish in a group is female, the next smallest is the reproductive male, and the rest are typically non-reproductive. When the largest female is removed from the population the male becomes female, and a non-breeder becomes male. Thus, in Nemo's case Marlin (Nemo's father) should have turned into Marla once Coral (Nemo's mother) disappeared. 

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