Two female condors reproduced without mating with a male

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On CaliforniaIn the United States, an event that is as historic as it is inexplicable for many scientists who are dedicated to animal genetics happened. Two female condors that are in captivity in San Diego they conceived a young each without having mated with a male of their species.

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Scientists from “Zoo Wildlife Alliance”, a nonprofit organization, announced the discovery in the Journal of Heredity, the official media of the American Genetic Association. According to specialists, it is the first time that a reproduction by parthenogenesis has been documented in the species.

The event sowed hope in the community investigating these events, as it could have great impact on wildlife genetics and positive effects for the preservation of the species. Thus, for example, different species of endangered condor could have a hope of repopulating the sky.

“Our results showed that both eggs had the expected ZZ male sex chromosomes, but all markers were only inherited from their mothers, which verifies our findings”, He explained Oliver Ryder, Director of Conservation Genetics for the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, who is a co-author of the study.

How did they reproduce without mating with a male?

Quickly, the scientists performed routine tests on the two condors, and the results were astonishing: new condor pups are genetically related to females.

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The striking thing about the case was that throughout the process, the females were continuously housed with fertile males. They had even produced chicks before. Cynthia Steiner, a co-author of the research, explained: “Asexual reproduction was surprising because the two females had already given birth to other young.”

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Another conclusion that the team of scientists made about the analyzes was that the condor chicks did not have the DNA of any of the captive males. In this way, the two offspring became the first two cases of asexual reproduction, or parthenogenesis in the California condor species.

“We weren’t looking for evidence of parthenogenesis, it hit us in the face in surprise. We only confirm it because of the normal genetic studies we do to prove paternity, ”Ryder said in a statement.

Parthenogenesis is a form of reproduction based on the development of female sex cells (ovules) not fertilized, which occurs with some frequency in flatworms, rotifers, tardigrades, crustaceans, insects, amphibians and reptiles, more rarely in some fish and, exceptionally, in birds.

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This discovery of Partenogenesis It is not only the first to be documented in condors -which being birds are clearly an exception in the case-. It is also, the first discovered through the use of molecular genetic testing.

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