We know it’s getting warmer here on Earth, and that has some obvious side effects … and some pretty weird ones. This one falls in the latter category: The male Australian bearded dragon will reverse its own sex when it gets hot enough out.
In the latest episode of The Adaptors, Flora Lichtman and Katherine Wells talk to Australian biologist Claire Holleley about the possible fate of these adorable lizards as the planet continues to heat degree by degree. At about 32 degrees C (90 degrees F), bearded dragons that are genetically male will often develop into females. Later, they can mate and pass on their genes to offspring, who will also be prone to this sex reversal.
It gets especially weird when a lot of these genetically male females breed, because their chromosomes are still male. If enough of these lizards breed, the female W chromosome (the dragon version of human’s Y chromosome) could be lost to the population for good. That means climate change could drive these lizards to extinction, in one of the strangest ways we’ve heard of yet.
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