- By Pallab Ghosh
- Science correspondent
41 minutes ago
Image supply, Joe Wasilewski
”Virgin births” in crocodiles might be prevalent, say the researchers.
The 1st case of a crocodile who created herself pregnant has been identified at a zoo in Costa Rica.
She made a foetus that was 99.9% genetically identical to herself.
The phenomenon of so-named “virgin birth” has been identified in species of birds, fish and other reptiles, but in no way prior to in crocodiles.
The scientists say the trait could be inherited from an evolutionary ancestor, so dinosaurs could also have been capable of self-reproduction.
The egg was laid by an 18-year-old female American crocodile in Parque Reptilania in January 2018. The foetus inside was totally formed but nonetheless born and so did not hatch.
The animal was obtained when she was two years old and was kept apart from other crocodiles for its complete life. Since of this, the park’s scientific group contacted a US group from Virginia Polytechnic, which specialised in virgin births, recognized scientifically as parthenogenesis. They analysed the foetus and identified that it was far more than 99.9 % genetically identical to its mother – confirming that it had no father.
Writing in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, the researchers say that virgin births might be far more prevalent in crocodiles, and have gone unnoticed till now since individuals have not been hunting for situations of them.
“It is not uncommon for captive reptiles to lay clutches of eggs, provided the period of isolation from mates, these would typically be deemed non-viable and discarded. These findings hence recommend that eggs must be assessed for prospective viability when males are absent,” the scientists say in their analysis paper.
“In addition, provided that (virgin births) can happen in the presence of prospective mates, situations of this might be missed when reproduction happens in females co-habited with males”.
It is unclear why parthenogenesis happens in diverse species, but occurrences are cropping up in the scientific literature far more typically, possibly since researchers are now hunting for it. One particular theory is that it takes place in species capable of parthenogenesis when numbers dwindle, and they are on the verge of extinction.
“This new proof presents tantalizing insights into the doable reproductive capabilities of extinct relatives of crocodiles,” create the scientists, “notably the dinosaurs”.