Intrauterine position effects on sexually dimorphic asymmetries of Mongolian gerbils: Testosterone, eye opening, and paw preference
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A series of experiments was undertaken to both discover and explore the causes of sexually dimorphic phenotypic asymmetries in infant and adult Mongolian gerbils. We found that (1) the order in which the eyes of individual gerbil pups opened varied with their gender; right eyes of female pups opened before left eyes, while left eyes of male pups opened before right eyes, and (2) the paw that adult gerbils held in the air while maintaining a species-typical tripedal stance varied with gender; female gerbils held their right paws in the air significantly more often than did male gerbils. Both order of eye opening and laterality of paw use while in a tripedal stance varied significantly as a function of the intrauterine position which subjects had occupied as fetuses. These data implicate exposure to testosterone as a mediator of the development of asymmetries exhibited by Mongolian gerbils.
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