Sunday, May 31, 2015

My Cardinal Prediction Comes True

Way back in 2010, when I first started this blog, I wrote a post about a news report on the phenomenon of gynandromorphism (a condition in which half the body is male and the other half female) in chickens.  In that post, I engaged in some speculation:

 I am wondering—is this kind of gynandromorphy unique to chickens, or does it occur in other birds? It would be barely noticeable in many species, but obvious in sexually dimorphic birds like woodpeckers and certain songbirds. When a half-male, half-female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) shows up at the bird feeder, that would attract some attention.

  And now it turns out that a gynandromorphous Northern Cardinal has been observed, and is the subject of this video that was posted on the online magazine Slate in January.  

I am not an expert in bird genetics, but I do notice one significant error in the video: it shows sex as determined by the X and Y chromosomes (as occurs in humans), but birds have the ZW chromosomal system for sex determination, in which males are ZZ and females are ZW. 

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