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Sum of features by which a member of a plant or animal species can be placed into one of two complementary reproductive groups, male or female. In both plants and animals, sex is determined by the reproductive cells (gametes) produced by the organism. The male produces sperm cells, and the female produces egg cells. Males and females may or may not have apparent structural differences, but they always have functional, hormonal, and chromosomal differences. Patterns of behaviour, sometimes elaborate, may also distinguish the sexes in some species. See alsoreproductive behaviour.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on sex, visit Britannica.com.