Name: Debbie G.
Date: August 2004
What is it called when an animal can change sex according
to environmental conditions? Is it hermaphrodite? Is there a name for
the actual process?
A difference between the genetically programmed (i.e. genotypic) sex and the actual
(i.e. phenotypic) sex of an individual is referred to as "sex reversal" if they're
phenotypically either male OR female. Although the phenotype of a hermaphroditic
animal also differs from its genotype, they have the ability to produce both eggs
The actual mechanism of this response to environmental stimuli is not completely
understood, but most likely involves hormonal signalling. The following webpage
from the Univ. College-London has a detailed explanation of this phenomenon
Thanks for the great question & I apologize for the long delay in responding,
Jeff Buzby, Ph.D.
CHOC Research Institute
Div. of Educational Programs
Argonne National Laboratory
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