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Virgin Births Common Among Snake Species

First Posted: Jan 06, 2016 02:21 PM EST

Researchers found that virgin births may be quite common among snakes. The researchers' new study provides an expanse of interesting insights on parthenogenesis, the virgin birth in snakes. Facultative parthenogenesis, or asexual reproduction, is a quite common form of reproduction among some species of snakes and it also represents a potentially important feature of vertebrate evolution. However, obligate parthogenesis, when organisms exclusively reproduce through asexual methods, is also very rare among some snake species as well.

"Once considered a evolutionary novelty, facultative parthenogenesis has now been documented in an increasing number of vertebrate species, ranging from the hammerhead shark to domestic turkeys, komodo dragons to snakes; however it is this last group that offers us the greatest insight into this unusual reproductive trait," Dr. Warren Booth, coauthor said in a news release.

The researchers' study provides an understanding of the reproductive phenomena among some snake species and examines the first steps for investigating the origin and evolution of parthenogenesis in snakes.

"Based on our findings we propose splitting facultative parthenogenesis within snakes into two forms, and thus identify snakes as ideal model species to study the evolution of vertebrate parthenogenesis," Booth said.

The findings of this study were published in Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

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