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Bearded dragons show ability to change sex

Australian central bearded dragons are able to change sex when exposed to high temperatures, claim researchers. 

Lead author Dr Clare Holleley and co-author Professor Arthur Georges studied the reptiles at the University of Canberra before publishing a paper in the international journal Nature.

They said: “We are so excited about this work. Essentially what we have found is that in the Australian Central Bearded Dragon, would-be boys (genetically) are reversed by high temperatures to become girls who then mate with normal boy lizards to jettison their sex chromosomes and move to a temperature-dependent mode of sex determination.

“Not only have we demonstrated this sex reversal in the laboratory, and bred male x male-reversed-to-female lines, but we have shown that sex reversal is occurring in the semi arid regions of the Australian outback. This is the first case of sex reversal in a reptile.

“It is quite remarkable. Species with temperature-dependent sex determination are thought to be appallingly vulnerable to climate change, as relatively small shifts in nest temperatures can lead to 100% of one or the other sex being produced. A worrying element arising from our work is that species with genetic sex determination, previously thought to be immune to thermal influences, may also be vulnerable to climate change.”

Photo credit : Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park

About Domonique Wilsher

Domonique Wilsher
A graduate with a degree in Journalism, Dom enjoys reading and perfecting her cupcake making skills. Please feel free to drop her an email for any potential news stories.

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