4. <A href="http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/dp5/sex2.htm#s4">Virginal reproduction
4. Virginal reproduction
In cases of parthenogenesis (virgin birth), an ovum starts to divide by itself without fertilization, producing an embryo in which the paternal chromosomes may be replaced by a duplication of maternal ones. This asexual reproductive method is rare among warm-blooded vertebrates but more common among invertebrates. Pathological parthenogenesis has been observed in higher animals, such as the frog, fowl, and certain mammals. Parthenogenesis usually gives rise to female offspring or sometimes an abnormal male.
In 1900 Jacques Loeb accomplished the first clear case of artificial parthenogenesis when he pricked unfertilized frog eggs with a needle and found that in some cases normal embryonic development ensued. In 1936 Gregory Pincus induced parthenogenesis in mammalian (rabbit) eggs by temperature change and chemical agents. Artificial parthenogenesis has since been achieved in almost all major groups of animals, by mechanical, chemical, and electrical means, though it usually results in incomplete and abnormal development.
Attempts at artificial parthenogenesis in humans have not yet been successful. The first cloned human embryo was produced in October 2001. Eggs had their own genetic material removed and were injected with the nucleus of a donor cell. They were then incubated under special conditions to prompt them to divide and grow. One embryo grew to six cells before it stopped dividing. The same experimenters also tried to induce human eggs to divide into early embryos parthenogenetically -- without being fertilized by a sperm or enucleated and injected with a donor cell -- but their efforts met with only limited success .
There is some evidence, however, that natural parthenogenesis does occasionally occur in humans. There are many instances in which impregnation has allegedly taken place in women without there being any possibility of the semen entering the female genital passage . In some cases it was found either in the course of pregnancy or at the time of childbirth that the female passages were obstructed. In 1956 the medical journal Lancet published a report concerning 19 alleged cases of virgin birth among women in England, who were studied by members of the British Medical Association. The six-month study convinced the investigators that human parthenogenesis was physiologically possible and had actually occurred in some of the women studied .
Many primitive peoples believe that there are two methods of human reproduction: the ordinary animal one and a higher one rarely employed -- virgin birth . One belief is that the rays of the sun can fertilize women. In this regard, it is interesting that ultraviolet rays can cause parthenogenesis in unfertilized eggs of sea-urchins. It is also believed that moon rays, wind, rain, and certain types of food can cause impregnation. In the 19th century the Trobriand Islanders of the western Pacific insisted that cases of virgin birth still occurred among them.
Further evidence for the possibility of human parthenogenesis comes from the mysterious phenomenon of dermoid cysts . These are malformed embryonic growths or tumour-like formations occasionally found in various parts of the body, including womb, ovaries, and scrotum. They often contain bones, hair, teeth, flesh, tissue, glands, portions of the scalp, face, eyes, ribs, vertebral column, and umbilical cord. They are found in males as well as females, both young and old, including virgins. They appear to be undeveloped embryos and fetuses in various stages of growth. Loeb and several other researchers argued that dermoid cysts may be related to the parthenogenetic tendency of the mammalian egg, catalyzed perhaps by an increase in blood alkalinity. However, the body's parthenogenetic capacity is now very feeble and the generative centres lack the power to carry the reproduction process through to its proper conclusion.
It is possible that some cases of human parthenogenesis involve self-fertilization rather than true virgin birth, as there are cases of sperm being produced in women by vestigial, usually nonfunctional, male reproductive glands known as the epo÷phoron (parovarium) and paro÷phoron, which correspond to the seminiferous tubules of the testicles in males. In some instances, the magnetic influence and nervous excitement occasioned by attempted sexual intercourse may rouse into activity the latent, rudimentary male sex glands so that they secrete semen, resulting in impregnation .
Prior to the acceptance by the medical profession of the present theory of conception (epigenesis) in the middle of the 19th century, the ovist and aura seminalis theories prevailed, which can be traced back to Pythagoras. According to the ovist theory, the new organism is a product of the egg alone, and the spermatozoon and male progenitor are not essential to the reproductive process. According to the aura seminalis theory, the male supplies only a vital stimulus (an aura or emanation) which initiates the development of the ovum. The aura seminalis theory was rejected after it was established in 1854 that ova were fertilized by the actual entrance of the nucleus or head of the spermatozoa.
However, Loeb's experiments showed that for fertilization to occur, neither the sperm nucleus nor the spermatozoon itself need enter the egg, or even be in proximity to the egg. He replaced the sperm by alkaline solutions, ultraviolet rays, and other stimuli. Alexander Gurwitsch discovered in the 1920s that cells emit weak ultraviolet ('mitogenetic') radiation that can cause cell division in other cells at a distance -- a finding still resisted by mainstream scientists .
The power of sperm to cause fertilization is distinct from their capacity of hereditary transmission. In one experiment, a fertilizing enzyme (occytase) was isolated from spermatozoa and, when added to unfertilized sea-urchin eggs, caused them to develop. This substance is present in mammalian blood, since the addition of ox's blood to unfertilized eggs produced the same effects. Sperm therefore exercise two independent functions: they can trigger the segmentation of the ovum, and they may convey paternal genetic qualities. The former function can be replaced by chemical substances, while the latter can be dispensed with, in which case the offspring have purely maternal characteristics .
Eggs show at least a beginning of segmentation under normal conditions. But sperm, which are highly alkaline, appear to accelerate the process by compensating for the excessive acidity of the medium surrounding the egg rather than a chemical deficiency in the egg itself. An acid condition of the blood prevents the parthenogenetic development of ova in the ovaries, while increased alkalinity appears to favour parthenogenetic development .
Commenting on Pincus's experiments on artificial parthenogenesis in rabbits, G. de Purucker stated that the means employed had probably thrown the ova back to a condition identical with the hermaphroditism of the early third root-race. Since there is always a double sex in every human or animal of our day, the ova would develop from the double current innate in the mother rabbit and produce offspring much as the hermaphrodites did towards the middle of the third race .
J.B. Cibelli, R.P. Lanza and M.D. West, with C. Ezzell, 'The first human cloned embryo', Scientific American, Jan. 2002, http://sciam.com/explorations/2001/...zell/index.html
Raymond Bernard, The Mysteries of Human Reproduction, Mokelumne Hill, CA: Health Research, n.d., pp. 47-50, 56-63.
Ibid., pp. 3-10.
Ibid., pp. 11-28, 89-93.
Ibid., pp. 51-5, 117; F.H. Buzzacott and M.I. Wymore, Bi-sexual Man or Evolution of the Sexes, Health Research, 1966 (1912), pp. 32-4; Hilton Hotema, Secret of Regeneration, Health Research, 1963, ch. 204-205, 211.
Secret of Regeneration, ch. 208-210, 234; Gray's Anatomy, http://www.bartleby.com/107
Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, The Secret Life of Plants, New York: Harper & Row, 1973, pp. 54-5, 197-9; R. VanWijk, 'Bio-photons and bio-communication', Journal of Scientific Exploration, vol. 15, pp. 183-97, 2001.
The Mysteries of Human Reproduction, pp. 42, 109.
Ibid., pp. 118-9.
G. de Purucker, Studies in Occult Philosophy, Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 1973, pp. 455-8.
Sex is relative. Among animals, especially cold-blooded ones, males can be turned into females by increased feeding or a change in temperature. In the case of warm-blooded creatures, it can be done by extracting ovaries to turn, say, a hen into a cock. In many species, sex reversals happen naturally. Quahogs (hard-shell clams) are born and grow up male, but later half of them turn female. Slipper shells and cup and saucer shells do this too; they commence every season as males, but nearly all of them later pass through a phase of ambisexuality and turn into adult females. Guy Murchie writes:
Sex among these lowly folk seems to depend a great deal on food, since the best-fed individuals turn female the earliest, while the poor scrawny ones get left behind as males (although the opposite happens in the case of oysters). In some species, such as the marine worm Ophryotrocha, if the portly young females are later underfed they revert back into males again. Indeed among most primitive creatures of the sea and practically all insects it is a general rule that the smaller individuals are males and the bigger, fatter ones females, the basic reason being that the essential female function is to produce and feed young, while the only important thing expected of a primitive male is to dart blithely about fertilizing every egg in reach with no ensuing responsibility. 
Fish have evolved the quickest sex-reversing capacity of any animal: some species not only change from male to female as they grow, but a few, like groupers and guppies, develop the ability to switch sexually back and forth within seconds. If two female guppies meet while feeling amorous, one is likely to start turning into a male so he can mate with the other. Occasionally both shift at the same moment, which usually results in a furious fight, with the winner emerging as a female who somehow forces the other to stay male.
As already mentioned, many primitive creatures (including plants) are hermaphrodites, possessing both male and female organs. The guppy's flexibility comes from having both testicles and ovaries with some sort of valve that switches the flow from milt to roe. But true hermaphroditism (involving simultaneous sperm and egg flow) is entirely normal among most plants and many animals, from snails, who make love with their feet, to earthworms, which spend hours adjusting and aligning themselves head to tail and tail to head with the aid of a sticky mucus they exude, so that the sperm pores on the fifteenth segment of each worm coincide with the egg pores on the tenth segment of the other worm.
In times of famine or stress, when such hermaphrodites don't meet each other so often for cross-fertilization, each one still has the possibility of fertilizing itself by uniting its own sperm and ova. A dynasty of laboratory snails has been kept going on self-fertilization for 90 consecutive generations (during 20 years) without noticeable loss of vitality. Some kinds of deep-sea arrowworms actually prefer self-fertilization and use it exclusively.
A curious hermaphroditic creature is the sluglike sea hare, a kind of shell-less snail sometimes two feet long. Its phallus is on the right side of its head and, when playing the male, it puts its head between the finlike fans of a companion playing the female, gradually oozing its member into the genital opening. At the same time as it is a male to one sea hare, it will be female to another on the other side, and as many as 15 of them have been seen linked thus in a chain. In a few cases, the chain's ends work their way round to meet and join, forming a continuous loop -- a sort of sexual merry-go-round .
Most humans today are born with either a distinctly female or distinctly male sexual anatomy. However, about one person in a thousand is born with an 'ambiguous' sexual anatomy, often resulting in disagreement among 'experts' as to what their 'true' sex is . Human hermaphrodites or intersexuals have been reported throughout history.
Hermaphrodite bodies present an unusual mix of parts. The organ located where the penis or clitoris is usually found might look like the 'wrong' organ, or like something in between the two, or not particularly like either. The genitalia may appear to be of the female type, but the labia may contain testicles. Or the genitalia may look mostly male, but include a seeming vagina. Nowadays, if ambiguous individuals have testicular tissue only, they are technically categorized as male pseudohermaphrodites; if ovarian tissue only, they are categorized as female pseudohermaphrodites; and if they have one or more ovotestes, i.e. an organ with both ovarian and testicular attributes, they are categorized as true hermaphrodites. The tissue in question need not be functional in any sense. An interesting asymmetry in true hermaphrodites is that the ovaries are generally found on the left side, and the testes on the right .
True hermaphrodites are very rare (about 1 person in 83,000). The vast majority of them have an XX chromosomal basis, though a small percentage exhibit XY chromosomes. A very few have some cells showing XX and others showing XY, and in extremely rare cases cells have a single X chromosome (XO). In every such individual there is also evidence of Y chromosomal material on one of the 'nonsex' chromosomes. These individuals usually have ambiguous external genitalia with a sizable phallus so that they are generally reared as males, but they rarely produce sperm. They develop breasts during puberty and menstruate, and in some instances even pregnancy and childbirth have occurred.
Female pseudohermaphrodites have ovaries and exhibit an XX chromosomal pattern, but the external genitalia look masculinized. The most common cause is congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), a condition in which the adrenal glands of the fetus produce relatively large amounts of androgens (male sex hormones). In male pseudohermaphroditism, the individuals have testes and an XY chromosomal pattern, but the child is born with feminine-looking genitals. There are two main causes: testicular feminization syndrome or androgen insensitivity syndrome; and 5-alpha-reductase deficiency. In the latter case, the body develops along more masculine lines at puberty; the testes often descend into the assumed-labia, and the penis/clitoris grows to look and act more like a penis.
Ambiguous genitalia can also result from other conditions. In Klinefelter's syndrome, for instance, the presence of several X chromosomes and one Y chromosome sometimes results in sexual ambiguity. Moreover, many babies are born with relatively unusually formed genitalia but are not categorized as ambiguous or intersexed. Unquestioned females are sometimes born with relatively large clitorises, and a large number of male babies -- perhaps one in every one or two hundred -- are born with hypospadic penises, meaning that the urethra exits some place other than the tip of the glans. Operations are often performed very early on hypospadic penises, and large clitorises are often surgically reduced .
Intersexuals tend to be regarded as freaks in need of a medical-technological 'fix', though this attitude is being challenged . The usual medical response is to create, as soon as possible after birth, a 'believable' masculine or feminine anatomy via plastic surgery and hormonal therapy. CAH is a metabolic disease and certainly requires treatment as it can save a child's life and fertility. Likewise, androgen insensitivity needs to be diagnosed as early as possible so that the testes of androgen-insensitive people can be carefully watched or removed, as the risk of cancer is high. However, ambiguous genitalia are not diseased, and the narrow definition of 'normality' among intersex experts results in an extraordinary number of risky surgeries on unconsenting children. Complications include scarring, infections, loss of feeling, and psychological trauma .
Another pertinent fact relating to hermaphroditism is that males sometimes have cycles closely resembling the female menstrual cycle in length and nature. In rare cases, males may even menstruate periodically, with blood being discharged from various parts of the body, usually the nose or urethra . There are also instances of males having breasts as large as a female's and as functionally active, so that they are able to suckle offspring .