January 18, Diane Shakes shakes her head. A trisexual arrangement is really not so different. Three sexes—male, female and hermaphrodite—are "part of the plan" for many organisms. There's even a word for it: trioecious.
Carnal Knowledge | Hermaphroditic worms fight the battle of 2 sexes in 1
A Worm With Three Sexes Has Been Discovered Thriving in a Nearly Lifeless Lake
Sex change. A hermaphrodite C. The brain reigns as the most important sex organ--even for microscopic worms. By "masculinizing" the tiny brains of genetically female nematodes, researchers have given these ladies sexual behavior typical of male worms and begun to unravel the neuronal circuits behind worm attraction. Sex isn't to Caenorhabditis elegans --a 1-millimeter worm that feeds on soil bacteria--what it is to humans. The vast majority of individuals are genetically female, but they are really hermaphrodites, producing enough sperm to self-fertilize as many as eggs.
One morning I noticed two worms stuck together on the ground. Before I got a good eyeful, my dog rudely interrupted them and they hastily retreated into their burrows. Were they soil mates discussing Nietzsche or niches over a cup of dirt? Being hermaphroditic enhances the chances of finding a suitable mate for creatures like worms, with limited access to partners or the internet.
Like the deserts of the Antarctic, or the deepest parts of the sea, Mono Lake in California is an inhospitable place for most life forms. Apart from bacteria and algae, it appears only brine shrimp and diving flies can put up with its super-salty waters. But there's more to this body of water than meets the eye. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have recently discovered eight more species of microscopic worm thriving in and around the lake, and one of them is a brand new kind of weird.