Parthenogenesis

This passage is about parthenogenesis in the Komodo dragon.

Lexile Level: 1190L

Categories: Science & Technology Animals & Nature


In the animal kingdom, reproduction of offspring requires both a female and a male: a female to produce an egg and a male to fertilize it. However, in extremely rare circumstances, females of certain species are able to produce fertilized eggs without the aid of a male. This process is called parthenogenesis, based on the Greek for "virgin creation." Parthenogenesis occurs when an unfertilized egg develops into an embryo using two sets of maternal chromosomes. In December 2006, a female Komodo dragon, a type of giant reptile, gave birth to a fertilized egg without ever having had any contact with a male Komodo dragon. Researchers suspect that Komodo dragons may have developed the ability to reproduce parthenogenetically as a response to their environment. They are indigenous to the islands of Indonesia where storms can sometimes carry the animals from one island to the next. If a female lands on an island with no other Komodo dragons, parthenogenesis insures that she will still be able to produce offspring.


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