Life on Other Planets from a Biological Perspective: Sexless Life Forms

About the biological perspective of life on other planets taking into account the forms life takes, consider sexless life forms who don't follow normal reproduction patterns.

Life on Other Planets: Another View

Sexless life forms. We tend to think of terrestrial reproduction methods as being such that animals just naturally go in 2s, as they did in entering the Ark. The many forms which manage to reproduce without the benefit of a male and female are rarely considered, being dismissed as lower life forms. Many creatures are bisexual or hermaphroditic; each individual is able to act as both a male and female. Sometimes the sex of an individual animal changes from one breeding season to another, so that a creature is a spermatozoa-producing male one season and an egg-producing female the next. Within this broad hermaphroditic framework, there are innumerable variations. At least one species of "higher" form--a vertebrate--is a complete hermaphrodite. This is a small marine fish (Serranus subligarius) commonly called the banded flamefish or belted sandfish. Every mature fish of this species, writes marine specialist William M. Stephens, "possesses at the same time functioning male and female organs. The flamefish can produce eggs and also the sperm to fertilize them. It is literally a fish that can theoretically propagate without a mate." Although no other vertebrate is known usually to produce offspring without a mate, the existence of hermaphrodites on this planet would certainly argue for the possibility of such a form of reproduction on other planets. And this would be only the beginning. Further speculation is possible until we reach the limit of comprehension.

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