The Full Wiki

female: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

and comb of the Roman goddess Venus is often used to represent the female sex.]]

Female (♀) is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, which produces mobile ova (egg cells). The ova are defined as the larger gametes in a heterogamous reproduction system, while the smaller, usually motile gamete, the spermatozoon, is produced by the male. A female individual cannot reproduce sexually without access to the gametes of a male (an exception is parthenogenesis). Some organisms can reproduce both sexually and asexually.

There is no single genetic mechanism behind sex differences in different species and the existence of two sexes seems to have evolved multiple times independently in different evolutionary lineages. Other than the defining difference in the type of gamete produced, differences between males and females in one lineage cannot always be predicted by differences in another. The concept is not limited to animals; egg cells are produced by chytrids, diatoms, water moulds and land plants, among others. In land plants, female and male designate not only the egg- and sperm-producing organisms and structures, but also the structures of the sporophytes that give rise to male and female plants.

Contents

Etymology and usage

The word female comes from the Latin femella, the diminutive form of femina, meaning "woman," which is not actually related to the word "male." In the late 14th century, the English spelling was altered so that the word paralleled the spelling of "male."

Mammalian female

The distinguishing characteristic of the class Mammalia is the presence of mammary glands. The mammary glands are modified sweat glands that produce milk, which is used to feed the young during the period of time shortly after birth. Only mammals have the capacity to produce milk. The presence of mammary glands is most obvious on humans, due to the tendency of the female human body to store large amounts of fatty tissue near the nipples, resulting in prominent breasts, although today some human females also surgically augment their breast size. However, mammary glands are present in all mammals, although they are vestigial in the male of the species.

The mammalian female is characterized by having two copies of the X chromosome as opposed to the male which carries only one X and one smaller Y chromosome. To compensate for the difference in size, one of the female's X chromosomes is randomly inactivated in each cell. In birds, by contrast, it is the female who is heterozygous and carries a Z and a W chromosome whilst the male carries two Z chromosomes.

Mammalian females are characterized in that they all bear live young (with the rare exception of monotremes, which lay eggs). This is not totally unique, as some animals, such as guppies have analogous reproductive structures. In addition, some other non-mammalian animals, such as sharks, whose eggs hatch inside their bodies also have the appearance of bearing live young.

Symbol

A common symbol used to represent the female sex is ♀ (Unicode: U+2640 Alt codes: Alt+12), a circle with a small cross underneath. According to Schott[1], "The most established view is that the male and female symbols "are derived from contractions in Greek script of the Greek names of these planets, namely Thouros (Mars) and Phosphoros (Venus). These derivations have been traced by Renkama[2] who illustrated how Greek letters can be transformed into the graphic male and female symbols still recognised today." Thouros was abbreviated by θρ, and Phosphoros by Φκ, which were contracted into the modern symbols.

Sex determination

The sex of a particular organism may be determined by a number of factors. These may be genetic or environmental, or may naturally change during the course of an organism's life. Although most species with male and female sexes have individuals that are either male or female, hermaphroditic animals have both male and female reproductive organs.

Genetic determination

Most mammals, including humans, are genetically determined as such by the XY sex-determination system where males have an XY (as opposed to XX) sex chromosome. During reproduction, a male can give either an X sperm or a Y sperm, while a female can only give an X egg. A Y sperm and an X egg produce a boy, while an X sperm and an X egg produce a girl. The ZW sex-determination system, where males have a ZZ (as opposed to ZW) sex chromosome may be found in birds and some insects and other organisms. Members of Hymenoptera, such as ants and bees, are determined by haplodiploidy, where most males are haploid and females and some sterile males are diploid.

Environmental determination

Some species develop into one sex or the other depending on local environmental conditions, e.g. many crocodilians' sex is influenced by the temperature of their eggs. Other species (such as the goby) are capable of transforming, as adults, from one sex to the other in response to local reproductive conditions (such as a shortage of males). In humans and most mammals, sex is determined chromosomally -- a Y sperm will produce a male offspring and an X sperm a female.

Sources

Ayers, Donald M. English Words from Latin and Greek Elements. Second Edition. 1986. University of Arizona Press. United States.

References

  1. Schott GD. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll: Sex symbols ancient and modern: their origins and iconography on the pedigree.BMJ 2005;331:1509-1510 (24 December), doi:10.1136/bmj.331.7531.1509
  2. Renkema HW. Oorspong, beteekenis en toepassing van de in de botanie gebuikelijke teekens ter aanduiding van het geslacht en den levensduur. In: Jeswiet J, ed. Gedendenkboek J Valckenier Suringar. Wageningen: Nederlandsche Dendrologische Vereeniging, 1942: 96-108.

See also

Template:Commonscat


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia-logo.png
Wikipedia has articles on:

Wikipedia

Wikipedia-logo.png
Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia

Contents

English

Pronunciation

Etymology

From Old French femelle, from Mediaeval Latin femella (a female), from Latin femella (a young female, a girl), diminutive of femina (a woman). The English spelling was remodelled under the influence of male, to which female is not etymologically related.

Adjective

female (not comparable)

Positive
female

Comparative
not comparable

Superlative
none (absolute)

  1. Belonging or referring to the sex which is generally characterized as the one associated with the larger gametes (for species which have two sexes and for which this distinction can be made).
  2. (figuratively, electronics) Having an internal socket, as in a connector or pipe fitting.

Synonyms

Antonyms

Translations

Noun

Singular
female

Plural
females

female (plural females)

  1. Someone of feminine sex or gender.
  2. Something of feminine sex or gender.

Synonyms

Translations

See also

  • (Symbol for female)

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|The symbol biologists use for female organisms]] A Female is an organism that belongs to the sex that produces ova ("egg" cells) for sexual reproduction. Females of some species also bear offspring.

Organisms can either be grouped as male or female. Female humans are called women and their bodies are different from male humans (who are called men). A woman has a vagina between her legs (a male has a penis) which is the main sexual organ. They also have breasts with milk glands, which allow them to nurse (feed) infants. A woman's shoulders are usually not as wide as a man's, but women usually have wider hips than men, because they need wide hips to be able to give birth.

Women who become pregnant are encouraged by the medical community to seek professional care from an obstetrician or a gynecologist in order to prevent complications. Likewise, women should see a gynecologist regularly for routine screening exams for cancer.

Error creating thumbnail: sh: convert: command not found








Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message