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Slideshow: Virgin Birth Not So Miraculous in Animal Kingdom
ScienceNOW ^ | 27 December 2012 | Carrie Arnold

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
Credit: National Prk Service

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
Credit: Wikipedia

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
Credit: Wikipedia

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
Credit: Wim van Egmond/Visuals Unlimited Inc.

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.

Credit: Wikipedia

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
Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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
Credit: Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte

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
Credit: Animals Animals/Superstock

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.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Testing
KEYWORDS: animalreproduction; biology; godsgravesglyphs; parthenogenesis; waronchristmas
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1 posted on 01/01/2013 11:38:27 AM PST by neverdem
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To: neverdem

Anything at all to diminish Christianity.

2 posted on 01/01/2013 11:43:45 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: neverdem

The author. confuses virgin birth with virgin conception. In a virgin birth, everything remains intact even after delivery.

3 posted on 01/01/2013 11:48:49 AM PST by Dr. Sivana ("C'est la vie" say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell. -- Chuck Berry)
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To: driftdiver

There are several other major religions into the virgin birth situation.

4 posted on 01/01/2013 11:58:05 AM PST by muawiyah
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To: neverdem

The faux science of satan... wipe their dust from your feet when these demons appear.


5 posted on 01/01/2013 12:05:18 PM PST by LibLieSlayer (FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS!)
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To: neverdem

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..

6 posted on 01/01/2013 12:06:18 PM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole..)
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To: driftdiver

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.

7 posted on 01/01/2013 12:07:35 PM PST by Dutch Boy
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To: neverdem

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.

8 posted on 01/01/2013 12:08:09 PM PST by SumProVita (Cogito, ergo....Sum Pro Vita - Modified Descartes)
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To: neverdem

What is truly miraculous is a parthenogenic male.

9 posted on 01/01/2013 12:09:32 PM PST by reg45 (Barack 0bama: Implementing class warfare by having no class.)
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To: neverdem

Show me one instance of parthenogenesis producing a male offspring.

10 posted on 01/01/2013 12:14:35 PM PST by null and void (The internet never forgets, or forgives.)
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To: neverdem

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).

11 posted on 01/01/2013 12:14:52 PM PST by gaijin
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To: driftdiver; neverdem; muawiyah; Dr. Sivana
Althout the author used the comparison with Blessed Mary and her Divine Child as an eye-catching lede, it's more foolish than disparaging.

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.

12 posted on 01/01/2013 12:23:41 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o (What does the Lord require of you but to act justly, to love tenderly, to walk humbly with your God.)
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To: hosepipe

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”

13 posted on 01/01/2013 12:31:25 PM PST by Tublecane
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To: muawiyah

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.

14 posted on 01/01/2013 12:34:30 PM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: neverdem

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.

15 posted on 01/01/2013 12:38:13 PM PST by Ramonne
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To: null and void; reg45; Mrs. Don-o
"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."

From the article.

16 posted on 01/01/2013 12:39:53 PM PST by MetaThought
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To: MetaThought

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)

17 posted on 01/01/2013 12:53:35 PM PST by null and void (The internet never forgets, or forgives.)
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To: neverdem

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

18 posted on 01/01/2013 1:23:46 PM PST by Venturer
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To: neverdem
The main thing I see in this thread is a recurrent theme.
A false dichotomy. Either ‘this’ OR ‘that’.
For the anti-God types: There is far that we don't even have the ability to conceive of on the frontier of science than we know now. So how about using the good old fashioned monosyllabic word ‘God’ for some of those. (and if you have any doubts about how much we know, ask any quantum physicist about conditions RIGHT BEFORE the Big Bang)

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?

19 posted on 01/01/2013 1:32:10 PM PST by jim999
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To: MetaThought

OK...trannies there too, I guess ;o)

20 posted on 01/01/2013 1:38:07 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o ("He Whom the whole world cannot contain, was enclosed within thy womb, O Virgin, and became Man.")
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