If anyone ever tries to tell you that being intersex isn’t a thing, show them this bird.
A couple in Erie, Pennsylvania made an amazing discovery while bird-watching in their backyard a few weeks ago.
They came across a cardinal unlike any other, with both male and female traits split completely down the middle.
Known as a bilateral gynandromorph or chimera, the incredibly rare specimen featured the bright red coloring typical to male cardinals on one side, with the more lowkey blonde/brown shade attributed to females on the other.
Captured on film by Pennsylvania natives Shirley and Jeffrey Caldwell, the once in a lifetime spot was found in a dawn redwood not far from the couple’s home.
This might make some peoples heads explode. "…known as a bilateral gynandromorph … Half its body is male & the other half is female … a genuine male/female chimera…" https://t.co/HPHgO45YVf #Ornithology #birding #birds #pajeros #oiseaux #GodIsGreat #Science #Biology— Keith Alan Kelly (@KeithAKelly) January 31, 2019
“Never did we ever think we would see something like this in all the years we’ve been feeding,” Shirley told National Geographic.
Bilateral gynadromorphism is caused by double fertilization, when a female egg cell, that developed with two nuclei, is fertilized with two seperate sperm.
The end result is a specimen like the cardinal, which resembles a male and female stitched together in the centre.
Daniel Hooper, a postdoctoral fellow at the Cornell Lab, said: “This remarkable bird is a genuine male/female chimera.”
“Cardinals are one of the most well-known sexually dimorphic birds in North America—their bright red plumage in males is iconic—so people easily notice when they look different.”