Medical and Science

Chickens That Are Both Male and Female

Chickens in Yard
Photo by [kakisky] morgueFile
I’m sure if you read the title to this post then that’s probably what drew you into reading it. What we’re about to discuss is exactly what it sounds like. Some chickens are born as both male and female and scientists had to get to the bottom of it.

These bizarre animals have been called many different things such as hoosters or rens and the odds of chickens being born this way are only 1 in 1,000.

Half Male, Half Female Chickens

These birds known as hen-rooster hybrids or to be more scientific, gynandromorphs, are an amazing sight to the animal enthusiast. On one side of their body they have rooster type features such as the comb on the top of their head and the infamous leg spurs that they use to defend themselves. Then if you turn them and take a look at the other side you’ll find a delicate bird with hen like features. If you’ve ever seen someone in one of those costume get-ups that have a man on one side and a woman on the other, then you can imagine these chickens.

Scientists believed this to be some sort of genetic mutation and began testing to help prove their theory. A man by the name of Michael Clinton from the University of Edinburgh analyzed the cells from three gynandromorph chicken specimens and to their surprise, everything was perfectly normal. But they did discover that there genetics were made up of 50% male and 50% female cells. This would definitely explain the half and half features, but I find it quite strange that these features are perfectly divided amongst their bodies.

What Causes Chickens to be Born Male and Female

There is a theory as to why these chickens are born half male and half female. The theory suggests that the eggs that produce a gynandromorph had been fertilized by two separate sperm cells. But you’re probably asking yourself, do these chickens have the sexual organs of both male and female? The answer to that question is no, they are born with one or the other, either testicles or ovaries.

Even though these strange chickens are born with reproduction organs of one sex or the other, it is still unclear whether or not they have the ability to reproduce. Believe it or not this abnormality does exist in other bird species as well, such as the pigeon and also parrots. There may be other species that are born this way as well, but since many of them look similar whether male or female it’s yet to be discovered.

Have any of you ever seen these types of chickens?

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