FATHERS can influence the sex of their offspring, an Oxford University study has found.

It has traditionally been thought that in mammals only mothers have an impact but research published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B shows in wild mice this is not the case.

Dr Aurelio Malo, who led the study, said: "'In mammals, theory predicts that offspring sex ratios can only be determined by the mother, as fathers have always been thought to inseminate an equal proportion of X and Y sperm, having a random effect on offspring sex that they could not shift from equality, or 50:50."

But the scientists found this did not happen and speculate that it could be the result of natural selection, with males increasing the likelihood of having daughters if they are genetically inferior to widen the gene pool.

Dr Malo added: "These findings are potentially applicable to any other mammalian species, including our own."