Variation in Patterns of Animal Sexual Reproduction

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  • 0:01 Stereotypical Reproduction
  • 0:25 Hermaphroditism
  • 1:58 Sex Reversal
  • 3:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

In this lesson, you're going to learn about the weird and wacky ways some types of animals reproduce, and it's way different than most of us imagine sexual reproduction to be.

Stereotypical Reproduction

You came into existence probably because mom and dad met somewhere and decided to, well, reproduce. That's the standard mode of reproduction that most of us have in our heads. However, the way animals reproduce goes way beyond this stereotypical mating process. Let's cover two concrete examples of the variation in patterns of animal sexual reproduction.


Imagine you are an animal that really doesn't get around much in the sense of moving about to one place or another. Since you aren't able to explore and go places, your chances of finding a mate are kind of low, aren't they? Imagine a person being stuck in an apartment all day, never going anywhere. How will they ever have kids, right?

So, some animals have similar problems in that they don't really have much mobility. Animals like tapeworms, barnacles, and even clams. Yet, these animals exist. That means they do reproduce. That, in turn, means they have found a workaround for the few opportunities they have to find a mate.

What is that workaround? Hermaphroditism, a state where a living organism has male and female reproductive organs and functions as both a male and a female during sexual reproduction. That's all fine and dandy, but how is this beneficial to them? Well, what it means is that instead of a male having to find a female to reproduce or a female having to find a male to reproduce, hermaphrodites just have to find anyone - anyone at all - and they can mate. That makes it a lot easier to reproduce, doesn't it?

In some instances, hermaphrodites have gone even beyond this concept. Why bother looking for even one, any, member of the same species when you can just avoid all that trouble and undergo self-fertilization? Meaning, these hermaphrodites don't require a partner to reproduce at all.

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