NO man? No problem! A female snake has baffled scientists after she defied the laws of biology by giving ‘virgin birth’ not once, but twice despite not having contact with male in eight years!
After living in solitude for eight years, a snake gives birth to a child in southeast Missouri. Dubbed as parthenogenesis, this phenomenon is a rare case of asexual reproduction where animals give birth without mating. Scientists are surprised that this is happening more often than expected.
Missouri Department of Conservation’s Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center told Time that the female yellow-bellied water snake have already reproduced on her own in the summer of 2014. This is not the first time it happened. This snake babies in Missouri are the first examples of parthenogenesis seen in a female yellow-bellied water snake’s life.
Unfortunately, the offspring of this virgin water snake did not survive this summer, but they did in 2014.
It is the first documented case of parthenogenesis, or asexual reproduction.
“Virgin birth” is not really new. This is very common in insects, as well as in reptiles, amphibians, fishes and birds. But, it does not happen to mammals. When they first saw this in 2012, scientists thought that parthenogenesis was a way of animals to adapt in captivity—a survival skill. However, researchers found cases of single parenthood in sawfishes swimming in the wild.
First discovered in the 1800s when domesticated birds where seen to reproduce with mating, Parthenogenesis also happens to turkeys. Sadly, most of the parthenogenetic offspring are born carrying some abnormalities, although there are also those who live and reproduce normally.
From a scientific point of view, “virgin birth” occurs when smaller cells that are produced alongside an egg does not decay, but fertilize the egg instead.
Warren Booth of the University of Tulsa said that this anomaly is a unhealthy.
“Essentially you are eliminating all variation across the genome so it’s a very deleterious, a very bad thing to occur,” he told Christian Science Monitor.
People remain skeptical, so scientists continue to be curious.
Some experts are asking if its possible that the snake have mated with someone from the past and have been storing the sperm for future use. In response, Avila University biology professor Robert Powell said that this highly unlikely because animals can only store sperm for a year, or three at the most. This water snake had lived alone for eight long years.
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