One of Australia’s iconic lizard species is hiding a secret — female central bearded dragon embryos temporarily grow the lizard equivalent of a penis during development.
Researchers at The University of Queensland, the University of Canberra and CSIRO made the discovery while investigating what happens to the body and genitalia of male dragons that reverse their sex at high temperature treatment.
UQ School of Biological Sciences researcher Dr Vera Weisbecker said while the researchers expected to see some differences in the development of the male dragons’ genitalia, it was their female counterparts who caused a stir.
“The study has provided the first detailed developmental timeline in dragon embryos of genetically female and sex-reversed (genetically male) female dragons at normal and high temperatures,” Dr Weisbecker said.
“Our team incubated 265 bearded dragon eggs at two temperatures — either at 28 or 36 degrees Celsius, the latter of which causes genetically male dragons to reverse their sex.
“The way these females grew hemipenes, the equivalent of a mammalian penis, was decidedly weird.”
Read more at Science Daily