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Encyclopedia > Sexual maturity

Sexual maturity is the age/stage when an organism can reproduce. It is sometimes considered synonymous with adulthood, though the two are distinct. In humans, the process of sexually maturing is termed puberty. Life on Earth redirects here. ... Sexual reproduction is a union that results in increasing genetic diversity of the offspring. ... See Adult. ... Puberty refers to the process of physical changes by which a childs body becomes an adult body capable of reproduction. ...


Most multicellular organisms are unable to sexually reproduce at birth (or germination), and depending on the species, it may be days, weeks, or years until their bodies are able to do so. Also, certain cues may cause the organism to become sexually mature. They may be external, such as drought, or internal, such as percentage of body fat (such internal cues are not to be confused with hormones which directly produce sexual maturity). Multicellular organisms are those organisms containing more than one cell, and having differentiated cells that perform specialized functions. ...


Sexual maturity is brought about by a maturing of the reproductive organs and the production of gametes. It may also be accompanied by a growth spurt or other physical changes which distinguish the immature organism from its adult form. These are termed secondary sex characteristics, and often represent an increase in sexual dimorphism. For example, before puberty, human children have flat chests, but adult females have breasts while adult males do not. A gamete (from Ancient Greek γαμετης; translated gamete = wife, gametes = husband) is a cell that fuses with another gamete during fertilization (conception) in organisms that reproduce sexually. ... A peacock displays his long, colored feathers, an example of his secondary sexual characteristics. ... Female (left) and male Common Pheasant, illustrating the dramatic difference in both color and size, between the sexes Sexual dimorphism is the systematic difference in form between individuals of different sex in the same species. ... For other uses, see Breast (disambiguation). ...


After sexual maturity is achieved, it is possible for some organisms to become infertile, or even to change their sex. Some organisms are hermaphrodites and may or may not be able to produce viable offspring. Also, while in many organisms sexual maturity is strongly linked to age, many other factors are involved, and it is possible for some to display most or all of the characteristics of the adult form without being sexually mature. Conversely, it is also possible for the "immature" form to reproduce (see progenesis). The 1st-century BC sculpture The Reclining Hermaphrodite, in the Museo Nazionale Romano, Palazzo Massimo Alle Terme in Rome A hermaphrodite is an organism that possesses both male and female sex organs during its life. ... Progenesis is a mechanism in developmental biology that is associated with paedomorphosis. ...


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  Results from FactBites:
 
Animal Planet :: Cat guide -- Body -- Maturity (459 words)
Most females reach sexual maturity at around 10 months of age, although instances of much earlier pregnancies have been recorded.
Cheetahs are sexually mature at close to 2 years, leopards at about 30 months, and tigers don't reach full maturity until 3 to 5 years of age.
The cycle of female sexual receptiveness is closely linked to exposure to daylight.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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