Sorry, Kadal, you are not the father!
When the Chattanooga Zoo announced last September that Charlie, the zoo’s female Komodo dragon, birthed three hatchlings, zoo staff weren’t exactly sure how Charlie conceived.
Did she breed with Kadal, the zoo’s male dragon, with whom she was placed in the hopes that they’d mate? Or would she reproduce all on her own?
Turns out, Charlie doesn’t need a man, thank you very much.
“DNA results show that the hatchlings were, in fact, reproduced through parthenogenesis!” the zoo wrote on Instagram, while channeling daytime television’s paternity test champion Maury Povich.
“Although Kadal and Charlie were placed together in hopes of breeding, our staff is very excited to witness this monumental work of nature and be part of such an important conservation program.”
Parthenogenesis, the zoo explains, is “a type of reproduction where the female produces offspring without male fertilization.” Because Komodo dragons can live isolated lives, female dragons have evolved to where they can reproduce through sex and also parthenogenetically, the zoo says.
Other animals, like some species of fish and insects, can also reproduce by themselves, deeming male fertilization unnecessary.
The Komodo dragon is the world’s largest living species of lizard and is currently considered “vulnerable to extinction,” which makes the now 7-month-old hatchlings — Onyx, Jasper and Flint — even more exciting.
“Our staff is thrilled to play a part and to be able to witness this truly miraculous occurrence,” said Dardenelle Long, Chattanooga Zoo CEO and president, in a statement. “As the Komodo dragon is listed as vulnerable to extinction, these hatchlings are even more special and represent a bright future for their species.”
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