These Animals Are Male on One Side and Female on the Other

cardinal
Photo by Brian Peer.

This unique creatures are male on one side and female on the other.

These animals are called bilateral gynandromorphs.  Not only do they have both male and female sex organs, but their outward appearance is split down the middle. On one side they have the coloration typical of the male species, and on the other side they have the typical coloration of the female species.

While there are estimated to be about 65,000 species considered to be hermaphrodites (an animal with both male and female organs), bilateral gynandromorphs are a bit different.

Hermaphrodites typically have both male and female genitalia, but that is it. Their outward appearance is split in the same way. There are many species that start out life as male, and then become a female, for example the clown fish.

This gynandromorphic northern cardinal had no mate. Photo: Brian Peer
This gynandromorphic northern cardinal had no mate. Photo by Brian Peer.

As you might have guessed, life is generally not easy for bilateral gynandromorphs.

The cardinal above was observed over the course of weeks and was never spotted with a mate.

The chicken pictured below even displayed the behavior of a hen and a rooster, in addition to its male and female markings. It would both lay eggs and try to mount other hens.

The left and right sides of a gynandromorphic chicken Photo: Michael Clinton
The left and right sides of a gynandromorphic chicken. Photo by Michael Clinton.


Here’s a clip of a Northern Cardinal displaying both female and male physical characteristics:

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