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Anat Embryol (Berl). 1999 May;199(5):451-7.

Development of the penis and clitoris in the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii.

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Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


The development of the phallus from the indifferent stage to sexual dimorphism has not been described in any marsupial. This study describes the morphological and histological changes occurring in the development of the phallus of the tammar wallaby. The development of the penis and clitoris in the tammar closely follow the most widely accepted model for the development of the same organs in eutherian mammals. The urogenital plate that is present in both sexes at birth hollows out to form a urogenital groove at approximately 70 days postpartum (p.p.). There is then greater growth of the phallus in males than in females, which results in sexual dimorphism in length approximately 100 days p.p. In males, the urogenital groove secondarily closes over at this time and fuses in the midline and by 128 days p.p. the penile urethra is fully formed. In females, the groove remains open. The clitoris changes little morphologically from the time of formation of the urogenital groove until adulthood. The pattern of development of the penis in the tammar is similar to that seen in eutherian mammals. There is strong evidence that penis development is androgen-dependent in the tammar, yet unusually it becomes sexually dimorphic at a time when androgen content of the developing testis is low.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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