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6 April, 2016 - 17:26

Hermaphroditism occurs in animals in which one individual has both male and female reproductive systems. Invertebrates such as earthworms, slugs, tapeworms, and snails (Figure 18.5) are often hermaphroditic. Hermaphrodites may self-fertilize, but typically they will mate with another of their species, fertilizing each other and both producing offspring. Self-fertilization is more common in animals that have limited mobility or are not motile, such as barnacles and clams. Many species have specific mechanisms in place to prevent self-fertilization, because it is an extreme form of inbreeding and usually produces less fit offspring.

Figure 18.5 Many (a) snails are hermaphrodites. When two individuals (b) mate, they can produce up to 100 eggs each.