A hermaphrodite is an individual that has both female and male reproductive systems. It functions as both female and male in sexual reproduction by producing both eggs and sperm. Some hermaphrodites, such as tapeworms, can fertilize their own eggs, while most need to mate with another member of the same species. When hermaphrodites mate, each animal serves as a female and male, receiving and giving sperm. Mating can result in double the amount offspring than if only one individual’s eggs were fertilized. Many plants are hermaphroditic, having both stamen and carpel. The garden snail (Helix aspersa), hidden inside its shell pictured here, is, like other pulmonates, a hermaphrodite.


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