Anna, a green anaconda at the New England Aquarium in Boston, becomes the second ever recorded to give birth despite having no contact with a male.
The team at the aquarium were completely unaware that Anna was pregnant until she started delivering her 18 babies. After double checking that Anna did not have any contact with male anacondas, and conducting DNA tests on the two surviving babies, the team was able to confirm a virgin birth. More scientifically, this is known as ‘parthenogenesis’, a phenomenon whereby females of some species are able to clone themselves in order to reproduce, without ever coming in to contact with a male of the species.
Typically, in sexual reproduction, genetic information from the sperm and the egg combine to create a new cell, a zygote. However, in Anna’s case, only one of her eggs was required. The egg then cloned itself, creating essentially a self-fertilized zygote.
The ability to produce offspring through both sexual reproduction and using parthenogenesis provides individuals like Anna reproductive options. Even when there are no males around females are still able to produce offspring that will ensure her genes are passed on to future generations.
Source: Live Science
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