Source: New Scientist
Two new scientific studies suggest that virgin births, surely one of the strangest phenomena in nature, seem to occur a lot more frequently than we imagined—and can even happen in multiple generations. The latter discovery, presented in a paper in the Journal of Fish Biology, was made by studying a captive female whitespotted bamboo shark, whose offspring was revealed by genetic testing to have no father, and which in turn gave birth to her own pups without copulating with a male.
According to the study’s leader, Nicolas Straube of the Bavarian State Collection for Zoology in Munich, the study demonstrates that the phenomenon is by no means an evolutionary dead end—that it’s possible for offspring conceived through parthenogenesis to be fertile. Straube says that this implies that parthenogenesis may actually be an alternative to sexual reproduction.
A second study has shown that virgin births are not some kind of rare trick. The findings, which recently appeared in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, conclude that parthenogenesis frequently occurs in some 20 different species of snakes. Scientists already know that reproduction sans copulation occurs in a number of other creatures, including chickens, wild sawfish, and Komodo dragons. It seems likely that future research will reveal the phenomenon occurring in many other species.
Read more here.
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