Scientists discovered a half-female, half-male bee
In a Panama forest, researchers discovered a unique bee. The left side of the bee is male while the right side of the female is female. It was reported in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research, scientists led by Cornell University found this unique neotropical bee while studying nocturnal bees in the forest on the island of Barro Colorado in Panama.
This condition is known as gynendromorphism, and scientists have just found the first known gynendromorphic individual of its species in a night bee native to Central and South America, Megalopta amoenae.
On its masculine side it has a small jaw, a long antenna and a thin hind leg with fewer bristles. On its feminine side it has a shorter antenna, a very pronounced serrated jaw, and a thick, shaggy hind leg.
This bee is so special because, in general, the rare genetic condition of bilateral gynendromorphism is only seen when the insect is already dead and on display in a museum.
"Finding M. amoena was like finding gold or winning the Darwinian lottery", said Erin Krichilsky, a Cornell University student and lead author of the study published in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research.
The determination of sex in insects, which includes bees, ants and wasps, is peculiar. If the eggs are fertilized, worker bees (female bees) will be born. The unfertilized will be drones (male bees). But there can be double fertilization: if the sperm from a second and even a third individual enters an already fertilized egg, a female embryo, it can divide to produce male tissue, resulting in a gynendromorphic sample.
It is a known phenomenon: gynandromorphs have been found in at least 140 species of bees, as well as in butterflies, birds and crustaceans (but practically unknown in mammals). At least in bees, it is usually only seen after the insect is already dead.
The researchers followed her for four days and found that she tends to wake up a little earlier than the male and female bees. However, their periods of increased activity were more like female behavior.
"More studies are needed to better understand if there is a difference in the circadian rhythm based on sex in this species, and to distinguish what the pattern of deviant activity of the gynandromorph is derived from", they explain.