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15.5 Forms of Hermaphroditism

Those animals that have both male and female gonadal tissues in the same individual are called hermaphrodites. In many species, such as the nematode C. elegans and many fishes, hermaphroditism is the norm. Nearly each C. elegans worm, for instance, has both ovaries and testes. Indeed, in this species, self-fertilization is the norm, and the eggs from the ovaries exit the body through a reproductive tract already lined with sperm from the testes. Fertilization occurs within the animal. In fish, the gonads often have testicular tissue and ovarian tissue, and each region grows and differentiates during a particular stage of the fish's life.

In humans, "true" gonadal hermaphroditism—a person's having both ovarian and testicular tissue—is rare. However, it is estimated that about 1% of the population may have "pseudohermaphroditism," conditions where the phenotype is not the one expected from the gonads.

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