Meet half-hen half-rooster all-awesome chicken

Written by: Captain Skellett // March 14th, 2010 // Uncategorized

While we’re on the topic of gender bending animals, this chicken is half-hen and half-rooster. Epic.

Ed Yong wrote about it a couple of days ago, but apparently it was a very complex paper and I didn’t get his explanation. So without further ado, have some speculation from yours truly!

In humans, most of your cells are gender neutral. Sure, they’ll have the sex chromosomes in there, good old X and Y (or just XX if your a lady pirate like m’self). But those chromosomes don’t much matter to them. It’s hormones that control development. Pump in some female hormones and a man will grow lovely lady lumps. Pump male hormones into females and they’ll get a chestal region of the flat and hairy variety. Hormones hormones hormones.

Chickens are not people.

Chickens don’t have X’s and Y’s. They have Z’s and W’s, where ZZ=male and ZW=female. A bit like frogs, which are also a gender murky species imho.

In a chicken it matters what the cell is. If a chicken with ZW chromosomes is pumped full of male testosterone, it still looks like a hen. I think. That’s my understanding! Not to say that hormones have absolutely no effect, they’re still an important part of chicken life. They’re just not as important for defining gender when the chick goes through puberty.

The chicken above is the result of an experiment where they injected some female cells into a male embryo. One side ended up with more female cells and the other had more male cells. Voila.

Captain Skellett

I be Captain Skellett. Me blog started in April 2009 when I was working full time and didn’t get a chance to talk science. Now I have changed jobs and talk science all the time, but that doesn’t stop me blogging. More About Captain Skellett   Google


4 Responses to “Meet half-hen half-rooster all-awesome chicken”

  1. Hey Captain,

    Great article!

    When talking about chickens, it is always important to ask – and answer – this important question:

    “What is the difference between kinky and erotic? ONe you use the feather; the other you use the whole chook!”

    Miss ya


  2. Mason Posner says:

    I think you hit the central message on the head. Very cool paper, and nice demonstration that there is a lot more to learn about vertebrate sex differentiation. I can’t wait to use this paper in my anatomy and phys course this semester. This will go over even better than discussing androgen insensitivity syndrome (women that are XY).

    Aye, XY women and XX men be a topic I must revisit… after the blogging catastrophe of several months ago where my post spontaneously disappeared.

  3. jm rodriguez says:

    who is the wife of that chicken

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