Why not Androgynes among Mammals?
It is a curious fact that man through the ages appears to have been fascinated by the idea of finding a creature who is made of the right half of a man and the left half of a woman fused into one. In medievaldrawings and paintings, such a creature was called an androgyne (Fig. 1). Although, on rare occasions, lateral true hermaphrodites do occur — having an ovary and Müllerian-duct derivatives on one side, and a testis and Wolffian-duct derivatives on the other — such a vertical midline split is confined strictly to the “innards.” There is no left-right asymmetry in their external sexual development. Their circulating testosterone levels uniformly determine the extent of masculine manifestation; e.g., beard growth, penis size, etc. While their circulating estradiol levels control the extent of postpubertal feminine manifestation; e.g., breast fullness, hip roundness, etc. In mammals, XX and XY cells are equally responsive to testosterone and estradiol. Thus, depiction of the androgyne as only a figment of wildly unrealistic imagination illustrates that, in truth, there is total hormonal dependence of the mammalian secondary sex-determining mechanism.
KeywordsUrogenital Sinus Wolffian Duct MUllerian Duct Fetal Testis Gonadal Cell
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