5.4.1 Sex Determination in Humans

It has already been mentioned that the sex determining mechanism in case of humans is XY type. Out of 23 pairs of chromosomes present, 22 pairs are exactly same in both males and females; these are the autosomes.

A pair of X-chromosomes are present in the female, whereas the presence of an X and Y chromosome are determinant of the male characteristic.

During spermatogenesis among males, two types of gametes are produced. 50 per cent of the total sperm produced carry the X-chromosome and the rest 50 per cent has Y-chromosome besides the autosomes. Females, however, produce only one type of ovum with an X-chromosome.

There is an equal probability of fertilisation of the ovum with the sperm carrying either X or Y chromosome. In case the ovum fertilises with a sperm carrying X-chromosome the zygote develops into a female (XX) and the fertilisation of ovum with Y-chromosome carrying sperm results into a male offspring. Thus, it is evident that it is the genetic makeup of the sperm that determines the sex of the child.

It is also evident that in each pregnancy there is always 50 per cent probability of either a male or a female child. It is unfortunate that in our society women are blamed for producing female children and have been ostracised and ill-treated because of this false notion. How is the sex-determination mechanism different in the birds? Is the sperm or the egg responsible for the sex of the chicks?

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