Monday, November 14, 2005

Bizarrely Androgynous Osteoichthyes

` Busy day, busy day! Another Post of Very Little Effort... here is a slightly strange and brief article that Dory e-mailed me, in its entirety:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Researchers have found male fish with eggs in their testes and female sex traits off the coast of Southern California and believe that chemicals in sewage may be the cause, an author of two studies said on Monday.

The two reports found the changes in fish such as English sole and California halibut, both of which are bottom dwellers, in water near where sewage is released, said Dan Schlenk, an environmental scientist at the University of California, Riverside.

High levels of estrogen, both natural and man-made formulations used in birth control pills, are thought to cause such abnormalities in fish. Estrogen makes its way into sewage water and then the ocean through women's excretions.

Compounds that act like estrogen, found in certain industrial chemicals, have also been blamed for such changes.

But in this instance, Schlenk said higher levels of the egg protein were found in male fish in areas with lower levels of estrogen and estrogen-like chemicals in the sediment. The cause of the female characteristics, therefore, could be unknown chemicals in the sediment, he said.

"We might have other players in this game," Schlenk said in an interview on Monday. "We would guess they are primarily coming from waste water."

He said the sewage contained natural and man-made chemicals that was deposited in ocean sediment.

One of the culprits could be DDT, Schlenk said, a pesticide banned in the United States in 1972 after it was shown to cause reproductive damage to birds. DDT is no longer used but can remain in the environment for a long time.

Los Angeles County's sewage outfall, Schlenk said, "has probably one of the most contaminated DDT sites in North America, and these responses are fairly consistent with that kind of exposure."

11/14/05 18:56 ET

` If fish could somewhat mysteriously become gynandroids, it makes me wonder what else is going on under the waves that we are not seeing.... I'd be willing to bet, though, that it is easy for this kind of thing to happen among fish. After all, there are some species which change genders as part of their natural reproductive and social behavior.

` (Then again, if I recall correctly, there is also a type of African bird that can change from female to male and breed with females, so it's not just an osteoichthyes thing.)
` It's strange, though, that some fish could somehow develop both male and female characteristics at once. I think to myself: 'Can they breed? What kind of offspring could they have? Could they be somehow genetically different, or just different in the expressions of their genes? I wonder how that affects their populations?'

` Eh, I don't have an expert handy, so oh well. Anyway, I'm off to work on my sci-fi novel. Ta!


Galtron said...

Eh, those fish may be freaks of nature, but I bet they don't taste any different from normal ones... heh.

Aaron said...

I agree galtron! I bet the filet of english sole is just as good if it's male, female, or asexual. I wonder what christian fundamentalists would say about fishy 'immaculate conception'.

Was Mary a genetic mutant - with sperms, eggs, and a uterus?

Aaron said...

...or was she just keeping a secret?

S E E Quine said...

` Seeing that a woman woulda been stoned to death if anyone had found out she was pregnant before marriage, it sounds like she was lying to save her life.

` ...assuming that isn't a parable.