FunNature & AnimalKomodo dragon hatchlings are born without the need for...

Komodo dragon hatchlings are born without the need for a male

In one case of those with which nature sometimes amazes us, a female Komodo dragon has had three young without the help of a male, through asexual reproduction , according to a news release from the Chattanooga Zoo in Tennessee ( USA).

All three calves were born on August 4, 2019, and DNA tests were conducted to determine if Charlie, the new mother, had reproduced with the help of the zoo’s resident male, named Kadal, or if she had reproduced without the need for a male. , a phenomenon known as parthenogenesis .

The curious thing is that, despite having put him in contact with the male, in order to conserve his species and this having made multiple attempts to mate with her, at no time did he seem interested in his partner.

Those responsible for the center thought that everything was lost at the reproductive level. However, in September the female laid several eggs, and eventually three small young were born. Had there been sexual contact with the male?

No. The hatchlings were conceived without the help of the zoo’s resident male komodo dragon or any other animal except Charlie. Parthenogenesis, the process that explains giving birth without male participation, does not occur in mammals. But invertebrates are a different matter. Although it is true that it is a phenomenon that rarely occurs in reptiles, it is far from unheard of . Last year, for example, young were also born to a female Chinese water dragon at the Smithsonian National Zoo that had previously been isolated from males since it reached sexual maturity.

Today we see it in Komodo dragons. Of course: the three new pups at the zoo are males.

“The DNA results show that the pups were, in fact, reproduced through parthenogenesis!” The zoo wrote on its Instagram account. “Although Kadal and Charlie were placed together in the hope of reproducing, our staff is very excited to witness this monumental work of nature and to be part of such an important conservation program,” continued those responsible for the center.

Because Komodo dragons can live isolated lives, female dragons have evolved in ways that they can reproduce through sex and also parthenogenetically, the zoo explains.

About DNA testing

Reptiles use a more diverse sex selection than the X and Y chromosomes of mammals. Female Komodo dragons carry WZ sex chromosomes, while males carry the ZZ type. When parthenogenesis occurs, the mother can only create WW or ZZ eggs. Since eggs with WW sex chromosomes are not viable, only ZZ eggs remain to produce male offspring.

The Komodo dragon hatchlings, now six months old, have been named Onyx, Jasper and Flint and are growing fast and healthy. Visitors to the Chattanooga Zoo can view the hatchlings in the Forests of the World habitat on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Komodo dragons are undoubtedly the largest species of lizard , being able to grow up to 3 meters long. Despite their exceptional success as hunters, the restriction of their habitat jeopardizes their long-term future, encouraging captive-breeding programs like this one.

Reference: The Chattanoogan.com

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