Over the years it has been a familiar trope to point to examples of homosexuality in certain non-human species as a way of reinforcing the normality of it in homo sapiens, but why isn’t our Latin species name sufficient poof proof? And is “transgenderism” really an ism? Whatever.
Anyway, what to make, then, of this story from the current issue of Nature magazine:
It seems certain reptiles in Australia have figured out how to change their sex when the weather gets hot. Turns out scientists discovered most of these self-mutants in . . . Queensland. C’mon people! This has to be a troll job!
From the abstract:
Sex determination in animals is amazingly plastic. . .
Seems to be increasingly so in humans these days, too. But anyway. . .
Sex reversal has not yet been demonstrated in nature for any amniote, although it occurs in fish and rarely in amphibians. Here we make the first report of reptile sex reversal in the wild, in the Australian bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps), and use sex-reversed animals to experimentally induce a rapid transition from genotypic to temperature-dependent sex determination. Controlled mating of normal males to sex-reversed females produces viable and fertile offspring whose phenotypic sex is determined solely by temperature (temperature-dependent sex determination).
There’s a predictable punch line coming, naturally:
The instantaneous creation of a lineage of ZZ temperature-sensitive animals reveals a novel, climate-induced pathway for the rapid transition between genetic and temperature-dependent sex determination, and adds to concern about adaptation to rapid global climate change. (Emphasis added.)
So you can add Caitlyn Jenner to the list of things caused by global warming, although I’m sure further research is needed. Is there anything global warming can’t do?