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Secondary Sexual Characteristics

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Secondary Sexual Characteristics are elements of a creature's physiology that result from it being male or female. It is one step removed from "primary sexual characteristics" (which describes the actual reproductive organs). For example, everyone knows that only male lions have that iconic mane of fur around their neck, and that only male mallard ducks have a green head; it is one of their species' Secondary Sexual Characteristics.

Many times, fictional creatures are based on some manner of Real Life inspiration, and whether or not they have noticeable sexual dimorphism corresponds to whatever inspired them — if one author decides to call a lion a Smeerp, it makes sense that male Smeerps might have thick manes while female Smeerps do not, right?

Now a full discussion of these characteristics is well beyond the scope of this wiki; but when this subject arises in fiction, it can manifest itself in a variety of ways.

Secondary Sexual Characteristic Gender Clues

Other Gender Clue Tropes

Tropes That Get the Secondary Sexual Characteristics of Animals Wrong

No Real Life Examples, Please! Please only list fictional examples that aren't listed in any of the tropes listed here. Anything that fits in any of the tropes listed should be listed in that trope.


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    Comic Books 
  • Green Lantern: The people of Graxos IV essentially look like golden-skinned elves, but the females like Arisia Rrab have much more human looking feet. Males like her uncle Blish Rrab have only two toes which are widely spaced and more pointed.
  • Sleepwalker: Several female Sleepwalkers appear both in Sleepwalker's hallucinations and as part of Cobweb's attempt to manipulate Rick into thinking Sleepwalker was evil. Sleepwalker women have Hartman Hips and hair on their heads. When one letter writer asked why female Sleepwalkers are the only ones with hair, the letter column sarcastically said "because there's no Hair Club For Men in the Mindscape!"
  • In Xanadu (Vicky Wyman), the only way to casually differentiate the Dragons of the Golden Realm's sexes is by the color of their hair.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Love Is..., the girl has dots for nipples, unlike the boy.

    Fan Works 
  • Ben 10: Guardians: According to Kevin, male and female Anubian Baskurrs are differentiated by skin color, with females being blue. Also, female Decasauran Rexes have a shorter horn, and female Psycholeopterrans have fur.

    Films — Animated 

  • Animorphs:
    • Male Hork-Bajir have three horns, while females only have two.
    • Female Andalites have smaller tail blades than males.
  • Curse of the Blight:
    • The swamp elves have them in spades. Women have wide hips, breasts and lighter skin than their male counter parts.
    • The sama lack them. They are all waifish, lithe and have little to discern their genders.
  • Homecoming has examples for both of Trycanta's non-human races (plus of course the standard ones for the humans).
    • Among the lyrror (sapient cats), males have solid-color coats and five toes on their back paws while females have striped or spotted coats and four toes.
    • Among the mazor (essentially dragons), females have a different color of scales around their face than on the rest of the head while males have only one color of scale and their wings are further apart.
  • In Stielauge Der Urkrebs, the female trilobite is described as being much more slender and elegant than the more robust protagonist Stielauge.

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • Monsieur Scarlet is the only male ant in Bug Fables and the only one with wings; in real life, only male and infertile queen ants have them.
  • In The Eternal Cylinder, male Onkifurt have a dark pattern on their bills that females lack. So far, Onkifurts are the only animals in the game to display sexual dimorphism.
  • The female playable characters in Nululu Online have a ball-shaped body and a ponytail or tail, while the males are mostly round with a pointed tip on their backs. The female Kiku also have two pigtails instead of one.
  • Starting in Pok√©mon Diamond and Pearl, the Pokémon series had introduced secondary sexual characteristics for certain Pokémon. Some, like the Frillish family and possibly the Gible family, fall into a subtrope, but others, such as Pokémon like Rhydon having larger horns when male, female Pikachu having heart-shaped tails, or female Combee having a red mark on one of their heads, are just this trope.
  • In Splatoon, Inkling and Octoling girls in their humanoid forms have smaller eyebrows and slightly curvier bodies than boys. Also, female Inklings have longer tentacles than the males, just like real squids.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Dinosauria episode "The Last Tyrant", the male T. rex is shown to be slightly smaller and leaner than the bulky female and has more prominent brow ridges.

    Web Original 
  • In Serina, male royal villaingulls develop a golden triangular point on the top of their beak reminiscent of a crown for display.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Mares (female ponies) tend to have rounded muzzles and eyelashes, while stallions (males) tend to have angular muzzles and no eyelashes.
    • Male hippogriffs have larger beaks than females.
    • According to Word of God, the only way to tell male and female kirin apart is that females have eyelashes.

Alternative Title(s): Secondary Sex Characteristics