Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Komodo Christmas story

Just in time for Christmas comes this dispatch from CNN's Offbeat News department:
Flora the Komodo dragonFlora, a pregnant Komodo dragon living in a British zoo, is expecting eight babies in what scientists said on Wednesday could be a Christmas virgin birth.

Flora has never mated, or even mixed, with a male dragon, and fertilized all the eggs herself, a process culminating in parthenogenesis, or virgin birth. Other lizards do this, but scientists only recently found that Komodo dragons do too.

"Nobody in their wildest dreams expected this. But you have a female dragon on her own. She produces a clutch of eggs and those eggs turn out to be fertile. It is nature finding a way," Kevin Buley of Chester Zoo in England said in an interview.

He said the incubating eggs could hatch around Christmas.
Parthenogenesis has been observed in other lizard species. According to Kevin Buley of the Chester Zoo, however, Flora's brood represents the first time that parthenogenesis has been shown in Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis, the world's largest lizards. "It completely blew us away because it (parthenogenesis) has never been seen in such a large species."

2 Comments:

Blogger Paul Hirsch said...

Call me a phylumist, or a classist, if you will, but I find this to be very troubling behavior.

12/26/2006 8:43 PM  
Blogger Jim Chen said...

Paul,

I was going to call you a believer in law and Order, but the absence of mammalian parthenogenesis compels me to call you a Classist after all.

For ours is the Kingdom and the Family, now and forever.

Jim

12/26/2006 10:56 PM  

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