Virgin Birth? No, Virgin Hatch.
January 24, 2007 7:39 PM   Subscribe

A virgin birth? No, but a virgin hatch. The process by which this happened is nothing new, but appears to be the first recorded instance in this species. Maybe this phenomenon could also help solve a controversial human problem.
posted by The Deej (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"There are recorded examples of parthenogenesis (reproduction without the contribution of a male), a phenomenon also known to occur in some other reptile species."

sorry! :)
posted by zeteo at 8:06 PM on January 24, 2007

No sorries needed, mate.
posted by The Deej at 8:09 PM on January 24, 2007

This reminds me of the quote from Jurassic Park...

"Life finds a way"
posted by amyms at 8:13 PM on January 24, 2007

The first linked article says: "...Buley and his team said it was the first time it has been shown that Komodo dragons, the world's largest lizards, can also accomplish it."

I think the Wiki comment is referring to this instance in your quote. They go on to call it the second instance.

"Sungai, a Komodo dragon at London Zoo, laid a clutch of eggs in early 2006 after being separated from males for more than two years. Scientists initially assumed that she had been able to store sperm from her earlier encounter with a male (an adaptation known as superfecundation), but after being apprised of the condition of Flora's eggs, testing showed that Sungai's eggs were also produced without outside fertilization. On January 24, 2007, zoo officials announced that several of Flora's eggs had hatched, and that the hatchlings, all male, were doing well in a new enclosure prepared for them."

Buley's team may still be assuming that Sungai fertilized eggs through superfecundation.

In any event... rare!
posted by The Deej at 8:16 PM on January 24, 2007

i agree, it is interesting that they are island dwellers too, a useful adaptation
posted by zeteo at 8:26 PM on January 24, 2007

No one move a muscle as the dead come home.
posted by homunculus at 9:42 PM on January 24, 2007

I originally heard about this on the radio, with a few more details than the first link. It's interesting that Komodo dragon chromozones are very different from mammals - the female dragons have two different sex chromozones, while the male have two the same. (Mammals, including humans, are obviously the opposite). So in the parthenogenesis, the female dragon can give birth to male dragons - actually, she can only give birth to male dragons (explanation in the wikipedia article) - and then can breed with them. It sounds like an excellent adaptation in case a female is isolated on an island, though it wouldn't really help with the genetic diversity.
posted by jb at 12:28 AM on January 25, 2007

jb: The same applies to birds from what I've read, so I don't think that different=female is very unusual and restricted as you might expect an adaptation for isolated populations to be.
posted by edd at 12:43 AM on January 25, 2007

I was going to put this on the Front Page at xmas but went to the pub instead. Remember:

"life, uh... finds a way."

Crichton is sooo ahead of his time.
posted by biffa at 3:04 AM on January 25, 2007

homunculus --

We are not monsters but moral people.
posted by pax digita at 4:27 AM on January 25, 2007

The velocirapture is upon us!
posted by kafziel at 8:23 AM on January 25, 2007

The "human problem" link refers to parthenogenesis as "virgin births" and suggests that this may be a workaround for the bioethical problem of stem cell research.

Not bloody likely if the "virgin births" label sticks. I can hear it now: the exhortations against "killing little Jesuses."
posted by O Blitiri at 10:51 AM on January 25, 2007

Achewood gets all topical.
posted by goetter at 10:58 AM on January 25, 2007

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