I love all creatures, and I'm entranced by the diversity of how animals and insects look, act and reproduce. Two interesting stories popped up for me today, so I thought I'd share.
First is an aquatic flatworm that can fertilize itself -- by injecting sperm into its own head. According to James Gerken of the Huffington Post,
Macrostomum hystrix, a transparent, aquatic, hermaphroditic flatworm, has a "needle-like" reproductive organ it uses to inject sperm into the body of its mate. But it can also stab its own head and self-fertilize. These creatures are simple enough that the sperm can be injected anywhere in the body and reach the eggs.
Steven A. Ramm, lead author of the paper on this, told The Guardian, "To us, it sounds very gruesome."
Must be something wrong with me, because I just thought, "Cool!"
Photo of Macrostomum hystrix from Lukas Schärer
Next up is the bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps), a popular pet among reptile enthusiasts -- and I am one. Whether a bearded dragon egg turns into a male or female may be determined after the egg is laid -- not by genetics but by the ambient temperatures in which the egg is incubated.
"There are lots of girls running around out there that are genetically male," one scientist told Kerry Grens of The Scientist.
Nature is weird, so no wonder we humans are, too.