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Immaculate Conception In a Boa Constrictor 478

crudmonkey writes "Researchers have discovered a biological shocker: female boa constrictors are capable of giving birth asexually. But the surprise doesn't end there. The study in Biology Letters found that boa babies produced through this asexual reproduction — also known as parthenogenesis — sport a chromosomal oddity that researchers thought was impossible in reptiles. While researchers admit that the female in the study may have been a genetic freak, they say the findings should press researchers to re-think reptile reproduction. Virgin birth among reptiles, especially primitive ones like boas, they argue may be far commoner than ever expected."
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Immaculate Conception In a Boa Constrictor

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  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @12:26AM (#34120798)

    Interesting tidbit: The vast majority of known snake species are capable of swimming. Get a snake washed out to sea, let it drift between islands on flotsam, and with this mutation, a lone female is suddenly capable of being the foundation of a new population in a new ecosystem.

    While not advantageous to individuals, this female-only birth trait would be a powerful force in mass extinction events, as it leads to a diverse set of multiply adaptive groups being formed, each specialized in a different direction for a different ecosystem niche. If a meteor equivalent hits, and all the rules of living change to some degree, you have a greater chance of having some in the right niche to survive.

    The downside is if female-only births become too common, you stand a chance of losing genetic diversity in the smaller groups - so it being in the background like this, only occasionally popping up makes sense for a species that might have gained benefit from it in more ancient life cycles.

    Ryan Fenton

  • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @07:36AM (#34122748) Homepage

    Snakes are probably the best candidate you can find, for an animal that does have it. A bit more deserving than newborns actually, don't you think?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @12:14PM (#34125400)

    ...I think some radical Islamist might twist that...

    Just shows exactly how little you understand religion in general and Islam specifically.

    Islam does not view the Hebrew bible or the Christian's "New Testament" as anything other than revered holy scriptures which prelude their book, the Qur'an. Muslims follow an even stricter code of nutrition than we Jews do for the exact same reasons, whereas Christians actually deviate from God's original laws to make up their own. Even the crazy Wahabbis do not ignore the fact that Jews and Christians have elevated status among the non-believers, they are actually misinterpreting a very different set of Qur'annic rules which are political in nature rather than having to do with faith and obedience.

    Wars happen when ignorant jackasses make up shit to drive their own political agenda. Bin Laden didn't just use religion as an excuse the way George W. Bush did- he was actually following his twisted convictions. If you think Bush's "religion" is any less dangerous, you've got a lot to learn about reality.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.