The symbol of the Roman goddess Venus is used to represent the female sex in biology.[1] It also stands for the planet Venus and is the alchemical symbol for copper.

An organism's sex is female (symbol: ) if it produces the large non-motile ovum (egg cell), the type of gamete (sex cell) that fuses with the male gamete (sperm cell) during sexual reproduction.[2][3][4]

A female has larger gametes than a male. Females and males are results of the anisogamous reproduction system, wherein gametes are of different sizes (unlike isogamy where they are the same size). The exact mechanism of female gamete evolution remains unknown.

In species that have males and females, sex-determination may be based on either sex chromosomes, or environmental conditions. Most female mammals, including female humans, have two X chromosomes. Female characteristics vary between different species, with some species having pronounced secondary female sex characteristics, such as the presence of pronounced mammary glands in mammals.

In humans, the word female can also be used to refer to gender in the social sense of gender role or gender identity.[5][6]

  1. ^ Stearn, William T. (17 August 1961). "The Male and Female Symbols of Biology". New Scientist. 11 (248): 412–413. LCCN 59030638.
  2. ^ Grzimek, Bernhard (2003). Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. Gale. pp. 16–17. ISBN 978-0-7876-5362-0. During sexual reproduction, each parent animal must form specialized cells known as gametes...In virtually all animals that reproduce sexually, the gametes occur in two morphologically distinct forms corresponding to male and female. These distinctions in form and structure are related to the specific functions of each gamete. The differences become apparent during the latter stages of spermatogenesis (for male gametes) and oogenesis (for female gametes)....After oogenetic meiosis, the morphological transformation of the female gamete generally includes development of a large oocyte that does not move around....The ambiguous term "egg" is often applied to oocytes and other fertilizable stages of female gametes....Spermatogenesis and oogenesis most often occur in different individual animals known as males and females respectively.
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference Martin 2015 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ Fusco, Giuseppe; Minelli, Alessandro (2019-10-10). The Biology of Reproduction. Cambridge University Press. pp. 111–113. ISBN 978-1-108-49985-9.
  5. ^ L. Gordon, "On difference", in Genders (1991), p. 95
  6. ^ Laura Palazzani, Gender in Philosophy and Law (2012), page v

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