In sexually reproducing metazoans, there are separate and distinct male and female individuals. Each has its own reproductive system and produces one kid of sex cell, spermatozoon or egg. Nearly all vertebrates and many invertebrates have separate sexes, and such a condition is celled dioecious and this type of reproduction is called biparental reproduction. However, some animals such as most flatworms, some hydroids, annelids, crustaceans and some fishes have both male and female organs in the same individual. Such a condition is called hermaphroditism. In contrast to the dioecious state of separate sexes, hermaphrodites are monoecious, having both male and female organs in the same organism Most of the hermaphrodites avoid self-fertilization by exchanging germ cells with each other.
For example, although the earthworm bears both male and female organs, its eggs are fertilised by the copulating male and vice versa. Hermaphrodites also prevent self-fertilisation by developing eggs and sperms at different times. If we admit that all living things are mortal, that every living organism is endowed with a life span that must eventually end, then reproduction is indispensable for the continuance of species. During evolution the efficiency of reproduction increased where the parents protect and provide nutrition for the young before or after birth. The adaptations that are found in vertebrates are internal fertilisation, the cleidoic (enclosed in shell) egg, and the foetal membranes. Parallel adaptations are also found in lower animals.