Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Female snake's "virgin births" produce 22 baby snakes!

Ok, so this is pretty random... but I thought it would be fun to give a shout-out to the females of the animal kingdom!

BBC News reports that a female boa constrictor snake has given birth to two litters of extraordinary offspring. The 22 baby snakes do not have a father, and their genetic make-up is unlike any previously recorded among vertebrates.

Virgin births do occur in the animal kingdom - many insects can produce offspring asexually, but among vertebrate animals it remains a novelty, having been documented among less than 0.1% of vertebrate species. Other vertebrates that have been known to reproduce asexually include komodo dragons and hammerhead sharks.

Even though it's pretty rad that some female animals can reproduce asexually, it's not all that great for the "kids." Without the genetic material from the father, the babies have reduced genetic diversity, which makes it more difficult for them to adapt to changes like environmental conditions or new diseases.

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