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Julia Galbenu

Julia Galbenu is a student of biological sciences at Oxford University. In addition to her studies, Julia writes about biology.
Loggerhead turtles are an endangered species and a balanced sex ratio would help them survive. Photo, Upendra Kanda

What determines gender balance?

Looking at our human population we know that about half of us are female and half of us are male. The way this 1:1 sex ratio is determined is by genetic means, you get an X from your mum and either an X or Y from your dad; meaning there is an equal chance to be a female (XX) or male (XY). This seems to be a good way to achieve an even sex ratio. However quite a few animals go about a far more daring way to determine the sex of their offspring. They let the environment do it — in particular by using the temperature.

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