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Male refers to the biological sex of an organism
Organism
In biology, an organism is any contiguous living system . In at least some form, all organisms are capable of response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development, and maintenance of homoeostasis as a stable whole.An organism may either be unicellular or, as in the case of humans, comprise...

, or part of an organism, which produces small mobile gamete
Gamete
A gamete is a cell that fuses with another cell during fertilization in organisms that reproduce sexually...

s, called spermatozoa
Spermatozoon
A spermatozoon is a motile sperm cell, or moving form of the haploid cell that is the male gamete. A spermatozoon joins an ovum to form a zygote...

. Each spermatozoon can fuse with a larger female
Female
Female is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, which produces non-mobile ova .- Defining characteristics :The ova are defined as the larger gametes in a heterogamous reproduction system, while the smaller, usually motile gamete, the spermatozoon, is produced by the male...

 gamete or ovum
Ovum
An ovum is a haploid female reproductive cell or gamete. Both animals and embryophytes have ova. The term ovule is used for the young ovum of an animal, as well as the plant structure that carries the female gametophyte and egg cell and develops into a seed after fertilization...

, in the process of fertilization. A male cannot reproduce sexually
Sexual reproduction
Sexual reproduction is the creation of a new organism by combining the genetic material of two organisms. There are two main processes during sexual reproduction; they are: meiosis, involving the halving of the number of chromosomes; and fertilization, involving the fusion of two gametes and the...

 without access to at least one ovum from a female, but some organisms can reproduce both sexually and asexually.

Not all species share a common sex-determination system
Sex-determination system
A sex-determination system is a biological system that determines the development of sexual characteristics in an organism. Most sexual organisms have two sexes. In many cases, sex determination is genetic: males and females have different alleles or even different genes that specify their sexual...

. In most animals, sex is determined genetically
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

, but in some species it can be determined due to social, environmental or other factors. The sex of humans is determined genetically.

The existence of two sexes seems to have been selected independently across different evolutionary lineages
Lineage (evolution)
An evolutionary lineage is a sequence of species, that form a line of descent, each new species the direct result of speciation from an immediate ancestral species. Lineages are subsets of the evolutionary tree of life. Lineages are often determined by the techniques of molecular systematics.-...

 (see Convergent Evolution
Convergent evolution
Convergent evolution describes the acquisition of the same biological trait in unrelated lineages.The wing is a classic example of convergent evolution in action. Although their last common ancestor did not have wings, both birds and bats do, and are capable of powered flight. The wings are...

). The repeated pattern is sexual reproduction in isogamous
Isogamy
Isogamy is a form of sexual reproduction that involves gametes of similar morphology , differing only in allele expression in one or more mating-type regions...

 species with two or more mating type
Mating type
Mating types occur in eukaryotes that undergo sexual reproduction via isogamy. Since the gametes of different mating types look alike, they are often referred to by numbers, letters, or simply "+" and "-" instead of "male" and "female." Mating can only take place between different mating...

s with gametes of identical form and behavior (but different at the molecular level) to anisogamous
Anisogamy
Anisogamy refers to a form of sexual reproduction involving the union or fusion of two dissimilar gametes — anisogamous, anisogamic,...

 species with gamete
Gamete
A gamete is a cell that fuses with another cell during fertilization in organisms that reproduce sexually...

s of male and female
Female
Female is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, which produces non-mobile ova .- Defining characteristics :The ova are defined as the larger gametes in a heterogamous reproduction system, while the smaller, usually motile gamete, the spermatozoon, is produced by the male...

 types to oogamous
Oogamy
Oogamy is the familiar form of sexual reproduction. It is a form of anisogamy in which the female gamete is significantly larger than the male gamete and is non-motile. The male gametes are typically highly motile spermatozoa competing for the fertilization of the immotile egg.By contrast to...

 species in which the female gamete is very much larger than the male and has no ability to move. There is a good argument that this pattern was driven by the physical constraints on the mechanisms by which two gametes get together as required for sexual reproduction
Sexual reproduction
Sexual reproduction is the creation of a new organism by combining the genetic material of two organisms. There are two main processes during sexual reproduction; they are: meiosis, involving the halving of the number of chromosomes; and fertilization, involving the fusion of two gametes and the...

.

Accordingly, sex is defined operationally
Operational definition
An operational definition defines something in terms of the specific process or set of validation tests used to determine its presence and quantity. That is, one defines something in terms of the operations that count as measuring it. The term was coined by Percy Williams Bridgman and is a part of...

 across species by the type of gametes produced (i.e.: spermatozoa vs. ova) and differences between males and females in one lineage are not always predictive of differences in another.

Male/female dimorphism
Sexual dimorphism
Sexual dimorphism is a phenotypic difference between males and females of the same species. Examples of such differences include differences in morphology, ornamentation, and behavior.-Examples:-Ornamentation / coloration:...

 between organisms or reproductive organs of different sexes is not limited to animals; male gametes are produced by chytrids, diatom
Diatom
Diatoms are a major group of algae, and are one of the most common types of phytoplankton. Most diatoms are unicellular, although they can exist as colonies in the shape of filaments or ribbons , fans , zigzags , or stellate colonies . Diatoms are producers within the food chain...

s and land plant
Plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

s, among others. In land plants, female and male designate not only the female and male gamete-producing organisms and structures but also the structures of the sporophyte
Sporophyte
All land plants, and some algae, have life cycles in which a haploid gametophyte generation alternates with a diploid sporophyte, the generation of a plant or algae that has a double set of chromosomes. A multicellular sporophyte generation or phase is present in the life cycle of all land plants...

s that give rise to male and female plants.

Symbol


A common symbol
Gender symbol
A gender symbol is a symbol used to denote the sex of a life form or to characterize an agent by gender.The two standard gender symbols denoting male ♂ and female ♀ are derived from astrological symbols, denoting the classical planets Mars and Venus, respectively.These symbols have been in use...

 used to represent the male gender is the Mars symbol, (Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

: U+2642 Alt codes
Alt codes
On personal computers running the Microsoft Windows or DOS operating systems, additional characters to those available in the current keyboard layout can be typed using an Alt code: pressing and holding the Alt key while entering a character code with the keyboard's numeric keypad...

: Alt+11)—a circle with an arrow pointing northeast. This is often called a stylized representation of the Roman god
Roman mythology
Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans...

 Mars
Mars (mythology)
Mars was the Roman god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter, and he was the most prominent of the military gods worshipped by the Roman legions...

' shield and spear.

Sex determination


The sex of a particular organism may be determined by a number of factors. These may be genetic or environmental, or may naturally change during the course of an organism's life. Although most species with male and female sexes have individuals that are either male or female, hermaphroditic
Hermaphrodite
In biology, a hermaphrodite is an organism that has reproductive organs normally associated with both male and female sexes.Many taxonomic groups of animals do not have separate sexes. In these groups, hermaphroditism is a normal condition, enabling a form of sexual reproduction in which both...

 animals, such as worm
Worm
The term worm refers to an obsolete taxon used by Carolus Linnaeus and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck for all non-arthropod invertebrate animals, and stems from the Old English word wyrm. Currently it is used to describe many different distantly-related animals that typically have a long cylindrical...

s, have both male and female reproductive organs.

Genetic determination


Most mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s, including human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

s, are genetically determined as such by the XY sex-determination system
XY sex-determination system
The XY sex-determination system is the sex-determination system found in humans, most other mammals, some insects and some plants . In this system, females have two of the same kind of sex chromosome , and are called the homogametic sex. Males have two distinct sex chromosomes , and are called...

 where males have an XY (as opposed to XX) sex chromosome
Chromosome
A chromosome is an organized structure of DNA and protein found in cells. It is a single piece of coiled DNA containing many genes, regulatory elements and other nucleotide sequences. Chromosomes also contain DNA-bound proteins, which serve to package the DNA and control its functions.Chromosomes...

. It is also possible in a variety of species, including human beings, to be XXY or have other intersex
Intersex
Intersex, in humans and other animals, is the presence of intermediate or atypical combinations of physical features that usually distinguish female from male...

/hermaphroditic qualities. These qualities are widely reported to be as common as redheadedness (about 2% of the population). During reproduction, a male can give either an X sperm or a Y sperm, while a female can only give an X egg. A Y sperm and an X egg produce a male, while an X sperm and an X egg produce a female
Female
Female is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, which produces non-mobile ova .- Defining characteristics :The ova are defined as the larger gametes in a heterogamous reproduction system, while the smaller, usually motile gamete, the spermatozoon, is produced by the male...

. The ZW sex-determination system
ZW sex-determination system
The ZW sex-determination system is a system that determines the sex of offspring in birds, some fish and crustaceans such as the giant river prawn, some insects , and some reptiles, including Komodo dragons...

, where males have a ZZ (as opposed to ZW) sex chromosome may be found in bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s and some insect
Insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

s (mostly butterflies and moths
Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera is a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies . It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world, encompassing moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies, skipper butterflies, and moth-butterflies...

) and other organisms. Members of the insect order Hymenoptera
Hymenoptera
Hymenoptera is one of the largest orders of insects, comprising the sawflies, wasps, bees and ants. There are over 130,000 recognized species, with many more remaining to be described. The name refers to the heavy wings of the insects, and is derived from the Ancient Greek ὑμήν : membrane and...

, such as ant
Ant
Ants are social insects of the family Formicidae and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the mid-Cretaceous period between 110 and 130 million years ago and diversified after the rise of flowering plants. More than...

s and bee
Bee
Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, and are known for their role in pollination and for producing honey and beeswax. Bees are a monophyletic lineage within the superfamily Apoidea, presently classified by the unranked taxon name Anthophila...

s, are often determined by haplodiploidy, where most males are haploid and females and some sterile males are diploid.

Environmental determination


In some species of reptiles, including alligator
Alligator
An alligator is a crocodilian in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. There are two extant alligator species: the American alligator and the Chinese alligator ....

s, sex is determined by the temperature at which the egg is incubated. Other species, such as some snail
Snail
Snail is a common name applied to most of the members of the molluscan class Gastropoda that have coiled shells in the adult stage. When the word is used in its most general sense, it includes sea snails, land snails and freshwater snails. The word snail without any qualifier is however more often...

s, practice sex change: adults start out male, then become female. In tropical clown fish, the dominant individual in a group becomes female while the other ones are male.

In some arthropod
Arthropod
An arthropod is an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton , a segmented body, and jointed appendages. Arthropods are members of the phylum Arthropoda , and include the insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and others...

s, sex is determined by infection. Bacteria of the genus Wolbachia
Wolbachia
Wolbachia is a genus of bacteria which infects arthropod species, including a high proportion of insects , as well as some nematodes. It is one of the world's most common parasitic microbes and is possibly the most common reproductive parasite in the biosphere...

alter their sexuality; some species consist entirely of ZZ individuals, with sex determined by the presence of Wolbachia.

Secondary sex characteristics


In those species with two sexes, males may differ from females in ways other than production of spermatozoa. In many insects and fish the male is smaller than the female. In seed plants, which exhibit alternation of generations
Alternation of generations
Alternation of generations is a term primarily used in describing the life cycle of plants . A multicellular sporophyte, which is diploid with 2N paired chromosomes , alternates with a multicellular gametophyte, which is haploid with N unpaired chromosomes...

, the female and male parts are both included within the sporophyte sex organ
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

 of a single organism. In mammals, including humans, males are typically larger than females. In birds, the male often exhibits a colorful plumage
Plumage
Plumage refers both to the layer of feathers that cover a bird and the pattern, colour, and arrangement of those feathers. The pattern and colours of plumage vary between species and subspecies and can also vary between different age classes, sexes, and season. Within species there can also be a...

 that attracts females.

See also



  • Boy
    Boy
    A boy is a young male human , as contrasted to its female counterpart, girl, or an adult male, a man.The term "boy" is primarily used to indicate biological sex distinctions, cultural gender role distinctions or both...

  • Female
    Female
    Female is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, which produces non-mobile ova .- Defining characteristics :The ova are defined as the larger gametes in a heterogamous reproduction system, while the smaller, usually motile gamete, the spermatozoon, is produced by the male...

  • Gender
    Gender
    Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

  • Male pregnancy
    Male pregnancy
    Male pregnancy refers to the incubation of one or more embryos or fetuses by male members of any species. In nearly all heterogamous animal species, offspring are ordinarily carried by the female until birth, but in fish of the Syngnathidae family , males perform this function...

  • Man
    Man
    The term man is used for an adult human male . However, man is sometimes used to refer to humanity as a whole...

  • Masculinity
    Masculinity
    Masculinity is possessing qualities or characteristics considered typical of or appropriate to a man. The term can be used to describe any human, animal or object that has the quality of being masculine...

  • male plant