Snake stuns scientists by giving ‘virgin’ births

November 10th, 2010 - 9:42 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 10 (IANS) A female boa constrictor has stunned scientists by giving birth twice without mating.

The large litters of the snake showed no male influence at all - no genetic fingerprint that a male was involved in the reproductive process, scientists said.

Scientists were puzzled by the fact the boa constrictor had previously had babies ‘the old fashioned way’ - by mating - before these freak births.

The discovery turns decades of scientific theories about reptile reproduction on its head, according to the journal Biology Letters.

The mum shunned the four males she shares a home with to asexually produce the two broods of clones, reports the Telegraph.

All the snakes produced by the ’super mum’ snake were female and researchers were shocked to see they had attributes previously deemed impossible.

All the female babies, produced two years apart, also retained their mother’s rare recessive colour mutation.

A researcher from North Carolina State University in the US, said: “This is the first time asexual reproduction, known in the scientific world as parthenogenesis, has been attributed to boa constrictors.”

“The results may force scientists to re-examine reptile reproduction, especially among more primitive snake species like boa constrictors,” he added.

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