Split-Sex Animals Are Unusual, Yes, but Not as Rare as You’d Think

All serious butterfly collectors remember their first gynandromorph: a butterfly with a color and pattern that are distinctly male on one wing and female on the other. Seeing one sparks wonder and curiosity. For the biologist Nipam H. Patel, the sighting offered a possible answer to a question he had been pondering for years: During embryonic and larval development, how do cells know where to stop and where to go? He was sure that the delicate black outlines between male and female regions appearing on one wing — but not the other — identified a key facet of animal development.“It immediately struck me that this was telling me something interesting about how the wing was being made,” said Dr

The Death Predictor: A Helpful New Tool or an Ethical Morass?

Whenever Eric Karl Oermann has to tell a patient about a terrible prognosis, their first question is always: “how long do I have?” Oermann would like to offer a precise answer, to provide some certainty and help guide treatment. But although he’s one of the country’s foremost experts in medical artificial intelligence, Oermann is still dependent on a computer algorithm that’s often wrong. Doctors are notoriously terrible at guessing how long their patients will live. Artificial intelligence, now often called deep learning or neural networks, has radically transformed language and image processing. It’s allowed computers to play chess better than the world’s grand masters and outwit the best

A Rare Bird Indeed: A Cardinal That’s Half Male, Half Female

A bird hopping outside the window lately is the strangest that Shirley and Jeffrey Caldwell have ever seen. Its left side is the taupe shade of female cardinals; its right, the signature scarlet of males. Researchers believe that the cardinal frequenting the Caldwells’ bird feeder in Erie, Pa., is a rare bilateral gynandromorph, half male and half female. Not much is known about the unusual phenomenon, but this sexual split has been reported among birds, reptiles, butterflies and crustaceans. No one can be sure the bird is a gynandromorph without analyzing its genes with a blood test or necroscopy, but the split in plumage down the middle is characteristic of the rare event, according to Dan

About me

Cover COVID-19 

and patient safety

for USA Today.

Former long-time health/science

journalist, contributing to The

New York Times, The Washington Post, 

Scientific American.com, and others. Journalism educator and book author.

Contact:

kweintraub@usatoday.com

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