This bird ‘ s body is half man, half woman. So also the brain.

connectVideoHalf male, half female bird spotted

A cardinal is spotted with plumed in feathers, which are scarlet on one side and taupe on the other. The unusual plumage pattern is a clear sign that this bird is a gynandromorph, or the half man, half woman.

Male cardinals are red. Female cardinals are tan. The strange bird that its nest is made out of John and Shirley Caldwell’s kitchen in Erie, Pennsylvania, is an equal distribution of both.

Divided in the middle as a winged black-and-white cookie, the rare cardinal is plumed in feathers, scarlet on the right side and taupe on the left. When Shirley Caldwell photographed the bird on a recent winter morning, she knew that it was extremely beautiful. She did not know that the bird’s features went beyond its unusual plumage, though.

Ornithologists call birds if this is a “bilateral gynandromorphs” within the meaning of the half of the bird with the body of a man and the other half is female. [Image Gallery: Stunning Dual-Sex Animals]

“This particular bird is a real male/female chimera,” Daniel Hooper, postdoctoral researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, told National Geographic.

More From LiveScience

  • Image Gallery: Stunning Dual-Sex Animals
  • The 10 Strangest Medical Cases in the animal kingdom
  • Animal Code: Our Favorite Genomes
  • Of a Feather: Photos reveal Stunning Birds of the Southwest

Gynandromorphs, or “half-siders,” exist in many birds, crustaceans and butterflies. According to Hooper, cardinal half-siders are very easy to recognize, because the male and female birds of the species display a clear contrasting colours.

So, how does a bird end up on a dual-coating and dual-gendered?

It is a cocktail of chromosomes, which work slightly differently than the X-and Y-sex chromosomes that mammals carry.

According to Hooper, female birds carry both sex chromosomes — those birds are represented by W-and Z — while the males have two Zs. Gynandromorphy is thought to occur when female egg cells develop two nuclei, so that a nucleus containing a single Z-chromosome and the other contains a single-W.

If that egg cell is fertilized by a sperm carrying two male Z chromosomes of the egg cell develops, with both ZZ (male) and ZW (female) chromosomes. The bird then develops with the half of her body with male ZZ cells, while the other half contains a female SW cells.

If this chromosomal mix-up occurs in the beginning of the animal’s development, many of their cells begin to divide, the result in the form of perfect bilateral split seen in Caldwell cardinal friend. According to Kimberly Reece, a geneticist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, bilateral symmetry “is usually caused when the organism has between 8 and 64 cells,” Reece said in 2005, after the discovery of a gynandromorph crab in the Chesapeake Bay.

This is probably the case for the half-sider cardinal spotted in Pennsylvania, Hooper said. Certainly know, however, is an ornithologist would have to analyze the bird’s blood.

If that is the case, the chimeric bird in the brain is probably also “the half of the male” and “female half,” Hooper told The New York Times. As such, it is unlikely that the bird is able to sing — a skill only developed by lustful male cardinals.

Shirley Caldwell has noticed that such a scarlet-plumed man is trying to court the gynandromorph birds in her garden. If there is a chemistry between the two lovebirds, is it possible they could even have offspring, Hooper said.

“Most of the gynandromorph individuals are infertile, but this can actually be fruitful if the left side is a woman, and only the left ovary in birds is functional,” Hooper told National Geographic.

  • The 10 Strangest Medical Cases in the animal kingdom
  • Animal Code: Our Favorite Genomes
  • Of a Feather: Photos reveal Stunning Birds of the Southwest

Originally published on Live Science.

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular