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High temperatures can reverse the sex of dragon lizards before they hatch, turning males into females.
The finding, detailed in the April 20 issue of the journal Science, could have implications for the development of life as the planet's climate warms.
The research reveals that extreme temperatures could inactivate a gene on the male sex chromosomes of dragon lizards and thus turn male embryos into females. The sex-reversed lizards look female and have female organs but genetically they are male, said lead author Alexander Quinn of the University of Canberra in Australia.