Published on January 6th, 2012 | by Wild Gender0
New “Flamboyant” Gender-Bending Fish Suprises Scientists
The website Zoologger published an article today about the gender-bending hawkfish, which is described as a “flamboyantly coloured reef dweller (that) starts life as female but can transform into a male after maturing. Many marine animals do this, but these fish…change back when the situation suits.”
Though ecologists knew that some fish change gender in both directions, no one had seen a wild fish spawning after reverting to its former gender until now.
After three years of observation, Tatsuru Kadota and colleagues from Hiroshima University in Higashi-Hiroshima, Japan, confirmed that the hawkfish can indeed reproduce as a “female” after being “male”.
“Because of our frame of reference, we think of gender being fated one way or another,” says fish ecologist Scott Heppell of Oregon State University in the article. “These animals are a lot more flexible than some species.”
When a “male” is killed off, for example, a “female” can switch genders to take its place. The removal of the dominant male triggers hormones that stimulate physical changes: the “female” will begin to produce testosterone instead of oestrogen, which acts on germ cells, the precursors to reproductive cells.