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Early observations of spotted hyenas in the wild led researchers to believe that all spotted hyenas, male and female, were born with what appeared to be a penis.

which derives from Hermaphroditus (Ἑρμαφρόδιτος), the son of Hermes and Aphrodite in Greek mythology.

According to Ovid, he fused with the nymph Salmacis resulting in one individual possessing physical traits of male and female sexes; Alexander ab Alexandro stated, using the term hermaphrodite, that the people who bore the sexes of both man and woman were regarded by the Athenians and the Romans as monsters, and thrown into the sea at Athens and into the Tiber at Rome.

The word intersex has come into preferred usage for humans, since the word hermaphrodite is considered to be misleading and stigmatizing, Since the estimated total number of animal species is 8.6 million, the percentage of animal species that are hermaphroditic is about 0.7%.

Arthropods are the phylum with the largest number of species.

One possible pathophysiologic explanation of intersex in humans is a parthenogenetic division of a haploid ovum into two haploid ova.

Upon fertilization of the two ova by two sperm cells (one carrying an X and the other carrying a Y chromosome), the two fertilized ova are then fused together resulting in a person having dual genitalial, gonadal (ovotestes) and genetic sex.This language has fallen out of favor due to misconceptions and pejorative connotations associated with the terms, and also a shift to nomenclature based on genetics.Intersex is in some caused by unusual sex hormones; the unusual hormones may be caused by an atypical set of sex chromosomes.Sequential hermaphrodites can be divided into three broad categories: Dichogamy can have both conservation-related implications for humans, as mentioned above, as well as economic implications.For instance, groupers are favoured fish for eating in many Asian countries and are often aquacultured.Other kinds of intersex conditions are identified immediately at birth because those with the condition have a sexual organ larger than a clitoris and smaller than a penis.Some humans were historically termed true hermaphrodites if their gonadal tissue contained both testicular and ovarian tissue, or pseudohermaphrodites if their external appearance (phenotype) differed from sex expected from internal gonads.Intersex biology may include, for example, ambiguous-looking external genitalia, karyotypes that include mixed XX and XY chromosome pairs (46XX/46XY, 46XX/47XXY or 45X/XY mosaic).Clinically, medicine currently describes intersex people as having disorders of sex development, a term vigorously contested.This contrasts simultaneous hermaphrodites, in which an individual may possess fully functional male and female genitalia.Sequential hermaphroditism is common in fish (particularly teleost fish) and some jellyfish, many gastropods (such as the common slipper shell), and some flowering plants.

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