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Hermaphroditism in the Lower Vertebrates

Nature volume 160, pages 911 (05 July 1947) | Download Citation



BY the publication in 1944 of a description of the gonads of Monopterus javanensis Lac. (Symbranchii; Teleostei), Liu1 has furnished new and interesting evidence concerning the mechanism of sex determination in the lower vertebrates, and has opened a fresh field for research into this subject. It is well known that, while the separate nature of the sexes is a general rule among fishes and amphibians, there are many species in which this separation is neither stable nor complete, and a great deal of research, both descriptive and experimental, has been devoted to the problem. In these circumstances it is exceptionally interesting to find that Monopterus is peculiar—and so far apparently unique—among vertebrates in being a true hermaphrodite, which functions as a female during the first half of its life and as a male during the second. It appears that this discovery may be one of considerable theoretical significance, and in order to place it into its proper context, the present state of our knowledge concerning sex determination in the lower vertebrates may be briefly summarized.

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  1. University of Sheffield

    • W. S. BULLOUGH*


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