Skip to comments.Slideshow: Virgin Birth Not So Miraculous in Animal Kingdom
Posted on 01/01/2013 11:38:20 AM PST by neverdem
‘Tis the season for twinkling lights, wrapping paper, and virgin birth. For billions of Christians around the world, the holidays are a time to celebrate Jesus’s birth to the Virgin Mary. But for many animals, virgin birth is far from a miraculous event. Researchers have discovered a growing number of species that reproduce without assistance from the opposite sex.
Known formally as parthenogenesis, virgin birth occurs when an embryo develops from an unfertilized egg cell. The development of an embryo usually requires genetic material from sperm and egg, as well as a series of chemical changes sparked by fertilization. In some parthenogenetic species, egg cells don’t undergo meiosis, the typical halving of the cell’s chromosomes, before dividing into new cells. These offspring are generally all female and clones of their mother. Other forms of parthenogenesis occur when two egg cells fuse after meiosis.
Biologists think that sexual reproduction evolved as a way to mix the gene pool and reduce the impact of harmful mutations. Still, parthenogenesis can be beneficial if the mother is particularly well adapted to her environment, since all of her offspring will be just as well adapted.
Here’s a glimpse at some of the world’s most recently discovered parthenogenetic species:
New Mexico whiptail (Aspidoscelis neomexicana)
Living in the deserts of the U.S. Southwest and parts of northern Mexico, the New Mexico whiptail is an all-female species of lizard. The creatures first arose as hybrids between two closely related species of sexually reproducing lizards: the little striped whiptail (A. inornata) and the tiger whiptail (A. tigris). Male hybrids aren’t viable, making this one of the few all-female species. Adult female New Mexico whiptails reproduce solely through parthenogenesis, laying unfertilized eggs that develop into other female whiptails.
Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis)
In 2006, staff members at two zoos in the United Kingdom identified two female Komodo dragons that each laid an unusual clutch of eggs. The eggs developed into healthy offspring, even though neither female had been in recent contact with a male of that species. Genetic testing confirmed parthenogenesis. Although most Komodo dragons in the wild continue to reproduce sexually, this giant lizard is one of a growing number of vertebrates that reproduce parthenogenetically in captivity. Scientists still aren’t sure what triggers the switch.
Freshwater water flea (Daphnia magna)
Found across North America and Eurasia, Daphnia species mostly reproduce by parthenogenesis. In the spring and summer, a female D. magna will let her all-female offspring partially mature in her abdominal brood pouch. After several molts, these females will produce their own offspring by parthenogenesis. The onset of winter, drought, or other environmental stress will trigger some of D. magna's developing parthenogenetic offspring to become males, who then mate with the parthenogenetic females. This method of sexual reproduction produces eggs with an extra shell layer that lets them survive the stressful period.
Bdelloid rotifers (Bdelloidea species)
Like the New Mexico whiptail, bdelloid rotifers are all female and reproduce entirely by parthenogenesis. Despite tens of millions of years of celibacy, these rotifers are an amazingly diverse group with more than 300 species. The animalsappear to offset a loss of genetic diversity by eating any DNA floating in their environment and incorporating it into their genome.
Marmorkrebs (marbled crayfish)
The parthenogenetic form of the North American crayfish Procambarus fallax, marmorkrebs are a popular aquarium pet. Their capacity for virgin birth was first discovered in Germany in 2003, when aquarium owners noticed that crayfish housed alone were laying eggs that developed into healthy adults. Genetic analysis and laboratory experiments confirmed that the animals were reproducing through parthenogenesis. Ecologists worry that their accidental release into the wild could seriously harm native crayfish, because a single individual can start a self-sustaining population, leading some states to prohibit their ownership.
Bonnethead shark (Sphyrna tiburo)
In 2001, a captive bonnethead shark (Sphyrna tiburo), a type of hammerhead shark (pictured), gave birth to a normal-appearing female offspring. When the pup died several days later, researchers discovered that the DNA of the pup was identical to its mother’s. Because the mother had not been around any males for the previous 3 years, researchers confirmed that the pup developed through parthenogenesis.
Boa constrictor (Boa constrictor)
Until 2010, boas were thought to only reproduce sexually. But when a female boa produced several all-female litters that carried a rare genetic mutation, scientists from North Carolina State University in Raleigh performed a DNA fingerprint analysis. Although the genetic studies indicated that the female offspring were the result of parthenogenesis, researchers have yet to untangle the cellular factors that explain how and why this happened.
Cape honey bee (Apis mellifera capensis)
This native South African bee reproduces through a specific type of parthenogenesis known as thelytoky, in which diploid females (which carry the normal double set of chromosomes) develop from unfertilized eggs. What’s unusual in these animals is that worker bees can produce offspring by parthenogenesis. Typically, the sexually reproducing queen bee produces all of the eggs in the hive.
Anything at all to diminish Christianity.
The author. confuses virgin birth with virgin conception. In a virgin birth, everything remains intact even after delivery.
There are several other major religions into the virgin birth situation.
The faux science of satan... wipe their dust from your feet when these demons appear.
Well then... there you have it... Virgin birth is possible..
Not only possible but practical in some situations..
Who knew that after all these years it was scientifically provable..
Been that way since Marx and Engels. They jumped on Darwin to try to kill God. If evolution exists, God can’t. Or so I’m told by the libs at work.
Interesting....but it, in NO way, diminishes the FANTASTIC LOVE of the MIRACLE that the Virgin birth is for the world of humans, all created by a God Who loved us enough to make it all happen.
What is truly miraculous is a parthenogenic male.
Show me one instance of parthenogenesis producing a male offspring.
Interesting article, but I think 90% of such research and writing is simply political ground-laying by homosexual activists:
They want no future legal impediments to human cloning by lesbian “married couples” (sic).
First of all, genetic parthenogenesis in certain marine invertebrates, worms, fleas, etc. produces a genetic replica of the parent (same genome, always female, similar to a clone) and does not apply to the Lord Jesus, a male born from a virginal mother.
Second of all, sexually-reproduced offspring (from a sperm and an ovum) could be fairly commonplace among a certain subset of lesbians who reproduce by vendor-insemination, and who do so without any sexual contact with a man. I suppose if such a deviant female then gave birth via C-section, she could still be, physically speaking, an intact virgin, pre-partum, in partu, and post-pastum -- an OB/GYN oddity, but no miracle here.
The splendid thing about Mary is that she conceived through the Holy Spirit, and her holy offspring is the Son of God.
Of course many pre-Christian religions had accunts of virgin births, as well as accounts of a dying god who visited the Underworld and arose on the third day (or maybe at the Spring Equinox). The longing for these realities can be observed in many myths, because they are (albeit in garbled and fragmentary form) longings of the human heart since the dawn of human existence.
It is never fulfilled in a fully transcendant and complete way, except in the "Joy of Man's Desiring," Our Lord Jesus Christ, the son of Man, son of Adam, son of Abraham, son of David, son of Mary the Virgin--- Son of God.
Everyone knew, actually. “Parthenogenesis” is a commonly known word. Even more obviously, asexual creatures reproduce on their own. Even elementary school children know about them. This is just one of those stupid, misleading headlines some smart aleck concocted to get attention. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the Virgin Mary.
By the way, how come they never turn it back on scientists instead of trying to embarrass Christians. It’d take me about five seconds to come up with an alternative headline. “Whoa, There, Biologists! Move Over, Dolly the Sheep. Think Cloning Is So Special? Well, the New Mexico Whiptail Got There First”
Sure, there’s Buddha and the magic elephant who impregnated his mother.
However in the US when you mention “virgin birth” everyone assumes you mean the mother of Jesus. Especially when it is done at Christmas time.
God made all things as he wanted. The virgin birth has nothing to do with animals he created at the beginning of this world. Just his creation tell us of his love.
From the article.
I remembered that aphids do it too as soon as I mashed post. (although I’m not sure late season aphid males are born male, or whether, like some fishes, they flip later)
Jesus was born a man who walked the earth as a man.
If you want to argue about Virgin birth do not show me pictures of snakes, fish or lizards. Show me another man born of a virgin, a man who performed miracles and arose on the third day after his Cruxifiction , and ascended into Heaven, to take a seat next to His Father
And for the devout Bible-Thumpers out there: Have you actually ever READ the Bible? What version? Did you bother to learn another historic language to gain perspective? Do you know the histories of the people who rewrote it under a Roman ‘Imperator’? Do you know WHY Constantine had it rewritten?
I am not a scholar of any sort, Biblical or otherwise. But I try to pay attention.
Correct Perception is a term you all should look into.
The concept that there are a number of levels of truth, each as accurate as the previous or next, but each in alignment with how you are able to ask the question.
Darwin had a working hypothesis. A hypothesis is useful as long as it is ‘useful’. It is not meant as a final answer. Even something as simple as ‘water is wet’ is not universally accurate all the time. At what temperature? At what atmospheric pressure? At what scale (size wise)?
From those with a theological bent, you are confounded by your own doctrines; Why couldn't there be evolution? ALL things are within God's purview.
For those who think a belief in something greater is evidence of mental retardation, perhaps you should look in the mirror. Your arrogance and hubris borders on self-destructive. Is it indicative of a pathological fear, of the unknown, of the dark, of something?
OK...trannies there too, I guess ;o)
“Living in the deserts of the U.S. Southwest and parts of northern Mexico, the New Mexico whiptail is an all-female species of lizard. The creatures first arose as hybrids between two closely related species... Male hybrids arent viable, making this one of the few all-female species.”
It never ceases to amaze me how much scientists will contort their taxonomy in order to make it seem like “new species” are appearing. A hybrid, even if it can reproduce, is never a “new species”, just a mixture of existing breeds.
In fact, the existence of a hybrid is itself evidence that the progenitor species have been misclassified and shouldn’t be classed as separate species to begin with, but rather as different breeds or subspecies of a more inclusive species. For example, the fact that cats can nearly universally hybridize is common sense proof that the entire diversity, from lions and tigers down to housecats, simply the result of breeding, and not any other type of “speciation” event.
“From those with a theological bent, you are confounded by your own doctrines; Why couldn’t there be evolution? ALL things are within God’s purview.”
Ha! I’ve never heard that argument before, so I give you points for originality. It does kind of make sense, since it would basically take a miracle for Darwin’s just-so story to happen in reality, according to what we know of biology, physics, and genetics.
So, yes, all things are possible with God, and He could have miraculously caused evolution to happen. However, if we are examining it scientifically, we must exclude the possibility of miracles from our assessment, and conclude that it’s not a very plausible explanation, scientifically. The only reason it is accepted is that, as implausible as it is, science hasn’t come up with a more plausible theory, because anything more plausible would seem to have to posit a supernatural cause of some form, which science does not do. They’ve trapped themselves into defending an unsatisfactory theory because that theory is the natural consequence of their a prior assumptions.
You took the words out of my mouth.
A Happy New Year to you, sir.
You mean the hymen remained intact after Mary gave birth?
That would take a leap of faith wouldn’t it?
I think you're the one confused about what virginity means.
It means a woman who has not had intercourse with a man.
A woman born without a hymen or who has had lost it by other means is every bit as much a virgin.
Do you think the "revirgination" surgeries popular for Muslim women actually turns them back into virgins?
BTW, I am a Christian, and I see no reason whatsoever to believe there was anything unusual at all about Mary's delivery or its effect on her body.
If Mary never had physical relations with a man after Jesus was born (which I don't believe, BTW) then she remained ever-virgin regardless of the physical condition of her lady parts.
We have the technology to do virgin births today. In fact, this may have already been done.
Just do a surrogate pregnancy in a woman who has not had intercourse with a man.
But nothing can diminish Christianity. This actually strengthens Christianity. :)
Well, your definition of the Virgin Birth differs significantly from mine.
To my mind the only really relevant point is that Jesus had no human father. Once the pregnancy initiated there was no particular reason for the effects on Mary’s body to be any different from those for any other pregnant woman. Though one can assume she had the best prenatal care in history.
I realize your mileage varies.
Parthenogenesis always produces FEMALE offspring.
As for the virgin birth of Jesus, we are not given the details, but I do not think that there can have been an actual birth of a human being without a human father. It is genetically impossible. The story is meant allegorically.
The New Testament twice makes it clear that Jesus was of the house and lineage of David, the former king, and that this connection was on the side of Joseph, his father. It is a straight male line, which is the way heredity was recorded in preexilic times. Without an earthly, biological father, there could be no linear connection to David.
So, prepare the faggots and start up the fire, if you think that this makes me a heretic. But I think that the connection of Jesus to God is a spiritual one. The concept of a Son of God was already afloat in Hebrew religious circles at the time. It looks as if people outside the tradition tried to reify the concept excessively. That is my guess: but all things are possible to God.
Anyway, nice try; but parthenogenesis it is not.
Mary DID have sexual relations after the birth of Jesus. Matthew 1:24-25 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Well, I agree, which is why I said IF.
As I’m sure you know, a lot of Christians disagree and believe Mary was ever-virgin.
The usual explanation is that Jesus was descended biologically from David on both sides. His biological connection was from his mother, his “legal” connection to the royal house was through his (step)father Joseph.
Since DNA testing wasn’t available at the time, there was no way for anyone to prove Joseph wasn’t his real biological father.
I understand and respect Catholic doctrine on the issue, I just disagree that it represents actual truth.
And the subtext here is the miracle of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, is something akin to an animal? F you, who ever wrote this.
Stumbled upon a book over 30 years I believe entitled “Sex and the Brain”. I vaguely recollect a section in the book that discussed a XXY mutation in human females along with a reference to Immaculate Conception. I look for the book from time to time with the intention of setting my dusty memory straight.
Didn’t mean to sound like I was refuting you....I was agreeing with you. Sometimes things don’t type out the way the conversation goes in your mind.
Got that right. On re-reading I see what you were trying to say.
While I understand Catholic and Orthodox desire to turn Mary into some sort of super-saint, I find essentially no basis for doing so in the Bible.
She was obviously a wonderful person. After all, God chose her to be his Son’s mother. She was impregnated by God, then proceeded with her life as an ordinary Jewish wife and mother of the time.
She appears to have had at least two children after Jesus, possibly more.
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
With all things being within the purview of God, why aren’t all beliefs/religions valid? This would certainly be within His purview, wouldnt it?
With all things being within the purview of God, why aren’t all beliefs/religions valid? This would certainly be within His purview, wouldnt it?
A person with the XXY chromosomes is a male, usually infertile. The condition is called "Klinefelter Syndrome." A female cannot produce this XXY mutation, since she has no Y chromosome.
Speciation is a process that takes place over a long period of time. There are, in fact, several species which have arisen within the span of recent human history (the last 10,000 years).
Human and chimpanzee DNA is over 95% the same. Would you say, then, that we are just "mixtures of existing breeds"?
Ha! Ive never heard that argument before, so I give you points for originality. It does kind of make sense, since it would basically take a miracle for Darwins just-so story to happen in reality, according to what we know of biology, physics, and genetics.
The theory as formulated by Darwin and refined by countless scientists since then is very much based in the laws of physics. That you don't understand those laws is not a condemnation of the theory.
This is a very interesting article. It’s a shame that so many of the scientifically illiterate had to jump in and fill the comments with so many tedious anti-science rants.
I wonder what would happen in the case of a drastic environmental change. Since it is thought that sexual reassortment of the genome is necessary to ensure that at least some members of the species will be adapted to (or at least be able to survive) a new environment, it seems that these parthogenic species might be wiped out.
It is a personal choice to believe that scientific descriptions of the physical world negate the existence of God. If you believe that the physical universe and the Kingdom of Heaven are separate entities, then there should be no problem at all with studying science/the scientific method and being faithful.
Conversely, if you believe that the physical universe and the Kingdom of Heaven are the same, then no amount of trying to discredit science is going to help your faith.
“There are, in fact, several species which have arisen within the span of recent human history (the last 10,000 years).”
How do you determine that those are new species and not simply new breeds? Is there an objective standard that can be applied, or is it just “fuzzy science”? If you define species so loosely as to have no objective standard, then saying a new one arises means next to nothing, objectively.
“Human and chimpanzee DNA is over 95% the same. Would you say, then, that we are just “mixtures of existing breeds”?”
Since humans and chimpanzees cannot interbreed, I would say probably not. The test of interbreeding is only conclusive for positive results, not negative ones, since there are breeds that are obviously of the same species (because we have bred them), yet they can no longer interbreed, which are basically false negatives.
“The theory as formulated by Darwin and refined by countless scientists since then is very much based in the laws of physics.”
I like how you didn’t say anything about biology and genetics. Sometimes what you don’t say is as important as what you do. Now, standard evolution doesn’t step on too many toes when it comes to Physics, but abiogenesis certainly does, and that theory is a natural consequence of the same assumptions that figure in to evolution.