(ORDO NEWS) — Tasmanian viviparous lizards can change sex before birth. An article about this was published by Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Many egg-laying creatures, such as frogs, reptiles, and fish, are known to change sex before hatching. This is usually due to environmental conditions such as average temperature.
Now, Peta Hill and her colleagues at the University of Tasmania have found that a certain species of viviparous lizard can also change sex before birth.
This ability is possessed by Carinascincus, “snow skinks”, living in Tasmania and in the Australian state of Victoria.
They are distinguished by their adaptability to the cool weather in the south of the continent, from where they got their name.
Scientists captured 100 pregnant skinks in the Tasmanian highlands living at different temperatures. The individuals were placed in different terrariums, which were also maintained at different temperatures.
After birth, the authors tested the sex of the lizards by anatomical and genetic methods. It turned out that all cubs with female anatomy had XX chromosomes, that is, not a single male turned into a female.
At the same time, 7 percent of individuals with male reproductive organs had XX chromosomes, which suggests that they changed sex during development. This is the first such recorded case among livebearers.
The researchers found that in most cases, the sex change occurred in those skinks whose mothers were in cooler terrariums.
This happened especially often with those mothers who lived in the wild closer to the base of the mountains in a warmer zone.
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