Mar 17 2014
The picture above is of a baby Komodo dragon, made via parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis means that the female reproduces her offspring from an ovum without fertilization from a male. Although there is no male involved in this reproduction, parthenogenesis only produces males in Komodo dragons. This is because the female harbors both the male and female sex chromosomes, therefore when embryos are produced there can only be two male chromosomes. If two female chromosomes were to form the embryo, it would not survive.
Although the idea of parthenogenesis sounds interesting and seems like the better choice, it is actually not. The result of parthenogenesis means decreasing the genetic diversity between Komodo dragons. Amazingly though, Komodo dragons have the ability decide wether between being asexual or sexual depending on the availability of a mate and the environmental conditions. Therefore, zoos should keep male and female Komodo dragons together rather than apart to prevent parthenogenesis.
It can be mistaken to say that these Komodo dragons born from parthenogenesis are clones of their parents. But actually, during meiosis for these asexual Komodo dragons, an extra cell acts as a surrogate sperm and fertilizes an egg cell. The offspring will have the same genetic material as the mother, but will not be the exact same because of the genetic shuffling that occurs egg production.
These Komodo dragons are not the only intriguing animals that give birth via parthenogenesis, they are one of many. For example, bonnet head sharks, zebra sharks, copperhead snakes, blue-spotted salamanders and whiptail lizards can all produce offspring via parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis is an interesting topic to look further into because it just shows how amazing nature is and all the many things that occur.