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The gametes produced by an organism are determined by its sex: males produce male gametes (spermatozoa, or sperm, in animals; pollen in plants) while females produce female gametes (ova, or egg cells); individual organisms which produce both male and female gametes are termed hermaphroditic.
Frequently, physical differences are associated with the different sexes of an organism; these sexual dimorphisms can reflect the different reproductive pressures the sexes experience.
Among humans and other mammals, males typically carry XY chromosomes, whereas females typically carry XX chromosomes, which are a part of the XY sex-determination system.
Other animals have a sex-determination system as well, such as the ZW sex-determination system in birds, and the X0 sex-determination system in insects.
Many species, particularly animals, have sexual specialization, and their populations are divided into male and female individuals.
Conversely, there are also species in which there is no sexual specialization, and the same individuals both contain masculine and feminine reproductive organs, and they are called hermaphrodites. The reason for the evolution of sex, and the reason(s) it has survived to the present, are still matters of debate.
As sexual reproduction developed by way of a long process of evolution, intermediates exist.
Bacteria, for instance, reproduce asexually, but undergo a process by which a part of the genetic material of an individual (donor) is transferred to an other (recipient).
Click here to learn more about New Life and how we can help you.The resulting cells are called gametes, and contain only half the genetic material of the parent cells.