Komodo dragon shocks zookeepers by giving birth to babies conceived without a male

Louis Staples
Monday 09 March 2020 16:00
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Picture:(iStock/Getty Images)

Last year Chattanooga Zoo in Tennessee welcomed three Komodo dragons.

But now the endangered species have thrown something of a curveball in the zoo’s direction. One of the dragons has given birth without any involvement from a male dragon.

The process of giving birth without a male is called parthenogenesis and it doesn't happen in mammals. (Though we appreciate the Bible begs to differ).

Birth without male involvement is still very rare, but this isn’t the first time zoo animals have surprised us in this way. Last year a water dragon at the Smithsonian National Zoo that had been isolated from males shocked zookeepers by laying a bunch of eggs. We have no choice but to stan these independent women.

So how does this happen?

IFL Science reports that female komodos carry both W and Z chromosomes. This is what makes the process possible. The zoo explained:

When parthenogenesis occurs, the mother can only create WW or ZZ eggs. Eggs with the sex chromosomes of WW are not viable, leaving only ZZ eggs to produce all-male hatchlings.

So, potentially, these dragons have rendered men useless – what a shame.

Komodos aren’t known for being the friendliest of creatures, which is why the female in this case might have just decided to go it alone. The zoo's Facebook page writes:

In the wild, Komodo dragons mainly live isolated and often become violent when approached, which has allowed these animals to evolve to reproduce both sexually and parthenogenetically.

But the opposite can also happen, where a strong bond forms and komodos form long-term monogamous relationships.

So maybe they’re more like us that you’d think?

H/T: IFL Science

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