Name: Laura M.
Can a hermaphrodite reproduce?
Hermaphrodites usually contain both sex organs. They can fertilize their own
eggs but this is not a satisfactory solution for the long term because this
creates offspring genetically identical to the parent. This will not do in
case the environment changes down the road and none of the members of the
population can survive the change. There must be some way of creating
variation. Hermaphrodites can also usually mate with other members of its
species by exchanging sperm with them. They then use the sperm to fertilize
their eggs and this produces the necessary genetic variation.
Yes ...earthworms, snail, leeches, and many trees (trees that have both
sexes are called monoecious (one house). It is a way of a species hedging
its bets that it will meet a mate.
Peter Faletra Ph.D.
Office of Science
Department of Energy
Laura, "if you are refering to humans," it is a guess, but I am voting no, based on the fact that many people
with chromosomal abnormalities that grossly affect sexual development are
Paul Mahoney, Ph.D.
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Update: June 2012