American scientists have identified in crocodiles the ability to parthenogenesis – reproduction without the participation of males from unfertilized eggs. According to Naked Science, a rare case occurred at the zoo in Costa Rica – an 18-year-old female sharp-nosed crocodile, who lived alone, laid 14 eggs, one of which formed an embryo.
It is noted that she was kept alone for 16 years, without contact with males. This was rare, but not unique. In such circumstances, crocodiles can lay sterile eggs that do not contain embryos. However, then half of them turned out to be quite common, and one egg developed normally in the incubator. And although the embryo never hatched, it formed completely fully.
This embryo was studied by Warren Booth’s team at Virginia Tech. Scientists have sequenced its genome and found that it is almost identical to the mother’s genome. Thus, it was concluded that the female crocodile formed the embryo parthenogenetically, in the process of “virgin reproduction”, in which female germ cells develop without fertilization by male ones.
According to scientists, if both crocodiles and birds have parthenogenesis, then it is very likely that ancient relatives of reptiles and birds could reproduce in the same way.
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