Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Komodo Dragons: Virgin Birth produces five hatchlings!

The BBC and many other sites are reporting the remarkable hatching of five male Komodo Dragon babies from the "virgin" Flora at Chester Zoo in England. The page includes a Video report.
Flora produced a clutch of 10 eggs without mating at Chester Zoo, Cheshire, in May 2006.

Although other lizards reproduce this way, it has only recently been recognised in Komodo dragons.

The five male hatchlings are up to 18 inches (46cm) long and weigh about 4ozs (113g). Two eggs are still in incubation and three others collapsed.
More coverage at MSNBC.com.
Other reptile species reproduce asexually in a process known as parthenogenesis. But Flora’s virginal conception, and that of another Komodo dragon earlier this year at the London Zoo, are the first time it has been documented in a Komodo dragon.

The evolutionary breakthrough could have far-reaching consequences for endangered species.

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