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Scientists study half-male, half-female cardinal in Illinois

In addition to birds, various types of gynandromorphism can be seen butterflies, crabs and lobsters.

By Brooks Hays
Scientists study half-male, half-female cardinal in Illinois
A rare gynandromorphic cardinal. Photo by Peer/Motz/Western Illinois University.

MACOMB, Ill., Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Between 2008 and 2010, researchers tracked and studied a rare bird -- a gynandromorphic Northern cardinal. Gynandromorphism is a condition whereby an animal presents both male and female characteristics. That was the case for this unique Midwest cardinal, who featured female plumage on its right side and male plumage on its left side.

Because the cardinal color split (half white, half red) ran vertically from top to bottom, the specimen was considered to exhibit bilateral gynandromorphism. In addition to birds, various types of gynandromorphism can be seen butterflies, crustaceans and arachnids.

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Ornithologists Brian D. Peer and Robert W. Motz, from Western Illinois University, located and observed the rare cardinal a total of 40 days over the course of their two-year-long study. They recently published the details of their observations in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology.

The researchers said though they never witnessed the half-and-half cardinal making a mating call or pairing up with a mate, the bird wasn't targeted by others for its strange looks.

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