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Research from the University of Pittsburgh published in the Nov.
Hermaphroditism is taxonomically widespread among teleost fishes and takes on many forms including simultaneous, protogynous, and protandrous hermaphroditism, bidirectional sex change, and androdioecy.
Research could finally provide evidence of the first stages of the evolution of separate sexes, a theory that holds that males and females developed from hermaphroditic ancestors.
These early stages are not completely understood because the majority of animal species developed into the arguably less titillating separate-sex state too long ago for scientists to observe the transition.
Where present, most orders and families are polymorphic with respect to pattern of sexual allocation, with hermaphroditic taxa embedded within largely gonochoric (separate-sexed or dioecious) clades (Sadovy de Mitcheson and Liu 2008).
Gonochorism is presumed to be the ancestral condition in fishes due to its pervasiveness among basal clades of fishes and other vertebrate lineages (Atz 1964; Policansky 1982).