Definition of The Biological Sexes

  1. May 15, 2010 #1
    What are the formal biological definitions of male and female? Are they different for humans than for other animals? Does the medical field use different definitions than the biological community?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 19, 2010 #2

    Moonbear

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    The biological definition of the two sexes is that males are the organisms that produce the mobile gametes, while females produce the non-mobile gametes. The same definition can then be applied to any organism with two distinct gametes, not just animals. Even in plants, the male plant (or male part of the plant) produces the pollen that is mobile (sometimes because of a carrier) that gets transferred to the female plant (or female part of the plant).

    The medical field defines the two sexes the same way, but then also uses the terms male and female to refer to gender, which is not the same as sex. Gender is more of a psychosocial construct. So, for example, someone who is biologically of the male sex may have an operation, take hormones, or wear clothing to take on the outward physical characteristics of a female, and may wish to be referred to as female gendered.
     
  4. May 19, 2010 #3
    That's what I thought, thanks...although I thought gender was a concept only employed in sociology, psychology, anthropology, etc.
     
  5. May 19, 2010 #4

    Moonbear

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    The "etc." is the important part. Medicine does involve a good deal of sociology and psychology. :wink:
     
  6. May 20, 2010 #5
    So there's no females of any species whose eggs find the sperm? If they did, would they be considered males, even though they produced eggs?
     
  7. May 20, 2010 #6
    Can you think of any? They don't not exist... AFAIK. Female gametes are non-motile and they contain mostly nutrients responsible for the development of the organism once the ovas been fertilized by a male gamete. However the act of fertilization happens in numerous ways this basic rule is always the same. (Ie. in fish they deposit the ova and they will be fertilized outside of the body)
     
  8. May 24, 2010 #7

    Moonbear

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    If they were the mobile gamete, they wouldn't be called an egg, they'd be called the sperm. :wink: Sperm are the mobile gamete with the flagella that help them swim over to the egg.
     
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