Dictionary > Hermaphrodite

Hermaphrodite

Definition
noun
(1) An organism (plant or animal) having both male and female reproductive organs.
(2) An organism having both male and female organs, therefore, is capable of producing both male and female gametes.
Supplement
A plant hermaphrodite for instance has both staminate and carpellate organs. In animals such as some pulmonate and opisthrobranch snails and slugs can act as either the male or female in a sexual reproduction. In humans, the term is used to describe an individual possessing both male and female organs. However, that individual may not be considered a true case of hermaphroditism since usually one of the two gonads present may not be functional. A true hermaphrodite refers to an individual in which both gonads are functional.
Hermaphrodites may be:

  • simultaneous hermaphroditeorganism with both male and female reproductive organs at the same time
  • sequential hermaphroditeorganism having one type of reproductive organ early in life and then the other type later in life.

Word origin: comes from the name of the minor Greek god Hermaphroditus, son of Hermes and Aphrodite


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