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Virgin birth? Snakes? This could get biblical.
November 5, 2010 1:08 PM   Subscribe

Scientists have discovered a female boa constrictor reproducing asexually.

It gets cooler: this isn't supposed to be possible.
Snake sex chromosomes are a bit different from those in mammals—male snakes' cells have two Z chromosomes, while female snakes' cells have a Z and a W chromosome. Yet in the study, all the female babies produced by asexual reproduction had WW chromosomes, a phenomenon Booth says had not been seen before and was believed to be impossible...

It's possible that this one snake is some sort of genetic freak of nature, but Booth says that asexual reproduction in snakes could be more common than people think.
posted by quin (38 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dr. Malcolm, please pick up the white courtesy phone, Dr. Ian Malcolm.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:08 PM on November 5, 2010 [11 favorites]


This explains Christine O'Donnell.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:11 PM on November 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


I demand a return to natural values. The sexual reproduction is a conspiracy by the vertebrates to destroy our children, by making them look all different from us.
posted by edbles at 1:14 PM on November 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


There is a species of lizard in the southwest, I think, that are all female and all clones of each other.
posted by The Whelk at 1:14 PM on November 5, 2010


Big black nemesis, parthenogenesis
We feel like Greeks, we feel like Romans
Centaurs and monkeys just cluster round us
We drink elixirs that we refine
from the juices of the dying
We are no monsters, we're moral people
and yet we have the strength to do this
This is the splendour of our achievement
Call in the airstrike with a poison kiss
posted by boo_radley at 1:19 PM on November 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


Big black nemesis, parthenogenesis

Maxwell Edison, majoring in medicine!
posted by The White Hat at 1:22 PM on November 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Union of the Snake is on the climb
Moving up it's gonna race......

I guess that one really doesn't go, does it.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:32 PM on November 5, 2010


I can hear it now.

"Man? I don't need a man to have a baby!"

When all they are really saying is "hold me, love me, be with me."

*plays violin*
posted by stormpooper at 1:32 PM on November 5, 2010


There is a species of lizard in the southwest, I think, that are all female and all clones of each other.

The New Mexico whiptail.
posted by jedicus at 1:34 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just wait til they need to open a jar. Then they'll be sorry.
posted by JaredSeth at 1:36 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Joe: Les-boa?
posted by joe lisboa at 1:39 PM on November 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Field log, day 1322: Still no sightings of fish on bicycles.
posted by jquinby at 1:39 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maxwell Edison, majoring in medicine!

Okay, I just nearly lost my shit picturing Grant Morrison singing "Maxwell's Silver Hammer."
posted by griphus at 1:42 PM on November 5, 2010


Check out this new joke I heard:

A female boa constrictor and Samuel L. Jackson get on a plane.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:42 PM on November 5, 2010


This explains Christine O'Donnell.

we callin women snakes now? that's what's hot in the mefi streets?
posted by the mad poster! at 1:45 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am supremely curious to find out what happens once her offspring reach reproductive maturity.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:51 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Komodo dragons do this as well.
posted by AdamCSnider at 1:51 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Big black nemesis, parthenogenesis...

I really liked that Shriekback album back in the day (way to make me feel old!)

As far as the boa goes, I thought this sort of thing was known to happen with reptiles from time to time.
posted by aught at 1:53 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let's keep this news from He Who Must Not Be Named, OK?
posted by stevis23 at 1:56 PM on November 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ramphotyphlops braminus does this. So does Gymnophthalmus underwoodi.
posted by snofoam at 2:01 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ben Stein's wife is a boa constrictor?
posted by anti social order at 2:01 PM on November 5, 2010


we callin women snakes now? that's what's hot in the mefi streets?

The humor would theoretically come from juxtaposing the wonder of parthenogenesis with O'Donnell's comically vocal pet concern with masturbation.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:04 PM on November 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


we callin women snakes now?

No, we textin.
posted by nomadicink at 2:07 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


The humor would theoretically come from juxtaposing the wonder of parthenogenesis with O'Donnell's comically vocal pet concern with masturbation.

oh snap I totally missed that until I read the title again. *resolves to be less gun-jumpy*
posted by the mad poster! at 2:09 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


We'll get you down to "the mildly discontent poster." yet.
posted by boo_radley at 2:10 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Paulie Walnuts: Amazing thing about snakes is that they reproduce spontaneously.
Tony Soprano: What do you mean?
Paulie Walnuts: They have both male and female sex organs. That’s why somebody you don’t trust you call a snake. How can you trust a guy who can literally go fuck themselves?
Tony Soprano: Don’t you think that expression would’ve come from the Adam and Eve story? When the snake tempted Eve to bite the apple?
Paulie Walnuts: Hey, snakes were fucking themselves long before Adam and Eve showed up, T.
posted by yellowbinder at 2:30 PM on November 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm just saying that life aah... finds a way.
posted by adamt at 3:30 PM on November 5, 2010


Hmm.

Let me think about this.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!
posted by MrVisible at 4:13 PM on November 5, 2010


A few years ago, it was just another snake cult...
posted by kaibutsu at 4:15 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just love the sexy slither of a lady snake.
posted by Neale at 4:25 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


How is this news? In this day and age of internet porn, who hasn't watched a female reproduce asexually?
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:52 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


DO NOT WANT.
posted by contessa at 6:18 PM on November 5, 2010


The Immaculate Constriction
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:32 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Immaculate Constriction

Urge... to be a mythology pedant.... rising....
posted by FatherDagon at 11:09 PM on November 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, there's an interesting model for the transition from the WZ to XY sex chromosome systems. The earlier sexually-reproducing animals were WZ-female and ZZ-male; sometimes this effect produced a population of WW females; after many generations the "male" physical features start to appear in WZ animals, and the ZZ males begin to get outcompeted and disappear.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 5:09 AM on November 6, 2010


Just wait til they need to open a jar. Then they'll be sorry.
posted by JaredSeth at 4:36 PM on November 5 [1 favorite +] [!] No other comments.


I don't think so
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:39 PM on November 6, 2010


Now we know why it's always snakes.
posted by Goofyy at 11:35 AM on November 7, 2010


I asked an AskMe a few years back that's somewhat related... There was a case of an self-impregnating rabbit cited in the answers. Is it theoretically possible for a human hermaphrodite to self-impregnate
posted by Skwirl at 11:49 AM on November 7, 2010


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