Is there really such a thing as a virgin birth? With crocodiles apparently yes. At least, researchers have observed such a case in a female in Costa Rica for the first time.
The animal lived alone in a zoo for 16 years - and thus without contact with a male who could have fathered offspring. Still, in 2018, the crocodile lady laid 12 eggs, one of which actually contained a developed fetus. However, this did not hatch, the researchers report in an article in the journal "Biology Letters". Nevertheless, the observation is considered a scientific breakthrough: Until now, it was not known that crocodiles are able to do this.
The scientists examined the DNA of the crocodile fetus and only found genes from the mother - proof that there was no conception. 'This discovery offers exciting insights into the possible reproductive abilities of the extinct archosaur relatives of crocodiles and birds, particularly members of the Pterosauria and Dinosauria,' the research team notes in the paper.
What sounds extraordinary to laypeople is actually more common in the animal world. Parthenogenesis is the scientific term for such "virgin generation". The offspring develop from individual unfertilized egg cells. The phenomenon has been observed in many insects, arachnids, crabs, snails, and some species of sharks and snakes. According to the researchers, the latest finding that crocodiles are also capable of parthenogenesis indicates that dinosaurs were also able to reproduce in this way. In mammals and marsupials, on the other hand, parthenogenesis is considered extremely unlikely.
Sources: "Spectrum" / "Biology Letters"
Watch the video: David McMahon is stooping for a seashell on a remote stretch of coast when he spots the large predator. To show how one should behave in such a situation, the crocodile expert films the encounter with his cell phone.