Are there any non-asexual species in which the male of the species produces the offspring?

If so, why are they considered male and not female?


2 Answers 2


Yes the males of a group of bony fish Syngnathidae can bear offsprings or as you say produce offsprings. This group includes Seahorses and Pipefishes. In some species the male have either a brood pouch attached to the trunk or its tail while in others the egg is attached to the trunk or tail laid by the female.The fertilisation takes place in the pouch or in water before implantation.

Here are some pictures :

1.Male seahorse with brood pouch and a slender female without a brood pouch Image 1

2.Male seahorse giving birth to a baby seahorse Image 2

3.Male Syngnathus sp.(pipe fish) with the brood pouch enter image description here Inset image C shows eggs in pouch of pregnant male and Inset E shows Embryos in the pouch of pregnant male. (Images taken from researchgate.net and peaubleue.org)

Now coming to your question

why are they considered male and not female?

Though the males here bear the baby but the baby results from fertilisation of a sperm produced by the male (the same seahorse that is destined to bear the baby) and an ovum produced by the female (the other seahorse without a brood pouch). The sperm / male gamete producing individual is a male and a ovum/female gamete producing individual is a female. The provision of being able to bear a child does not change the sex.

Note: Seahorse is an oviviviparous organism i.e they are organisms in which the fertilised eggs develop inside the parent's body until they are ready to hatch.

P.S. Brood pouch is a cavity outside the body of these fishes in which the eggs develop and hatch.

Source: Wikipedia

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Good answer +1. Might be worth also going a tiny bit further in the definition of male vs female and define sperm vs ovum. Males produce small gametes while female produce large gametes. You might also want to say a word about species like yeast that have mating types and not gender as there are no difference in gamete size. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Remi.b Thank you. I'm glad that you liked it. Its my third answer in this community. I was thinking about doing some research on the sex determination of seahorse/ fish in general and then adding it to the answer. $\endgroup$
    – Tyto alba
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ I stumbled upon two images of Syngnathus sp. and have merged it into one and added to my answer. $\endgroup$
    – Tyto alba
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 4:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Thanks @SanjuktaGhosh; Great answer that perfectly combines knowledge and the pictures that transport the fascination that drives/drove (at least many of) us into biology. Looking forward to your additions. +1 anyways. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 8:23

Parental care by the male parent is off course relatively common, especially in birds and mammals. Cases were the male actually does most of the 'breeding' are relatively rare. I think @Sanjuktaghosh gave a beautiful example, but there are a few more:

  • Mouthbreeders keep there offspring in the mouth for considerable amounts of time. In most mouthbreeders, the female takes the eggs, but Darwin's Frog is a notable example were the male does.
  • Biparental mouthbrooding occurs where both parents take some of the eggs. This is found in some fish species.
  • A different example is the Emperors penguin, where the female lays a single egg, which is incubated by the male while the female returns to the sea to feed. To keep it warm, he puts this egg on top off its feet, folding his belly over it. A picture of dad with the egg can be found here
  • A final example, with thanks to Sanjuktaghosh, is the Northern jacana
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Like your Emperor penguin link to dailymail. Parenting by the male parent is also observed in a polyandrous bird Northern Jacana. $\endgroup$
    – Tyto alba
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 13:29

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