Virgin Births Among Condor Birds
Endangered California condors can have ‘virgin births’, according to a new study released Thursday that confirmed two male chicks hatched in 2001 and 2009 from unfertilized eggs.
The chicks, dubbed SB260 and SB517, had DNA that was 100 percent of their mothers, which means the two adult condors fertilized the eggs themselves.
The phenomenon is known as parthenogenesis, but researchers were unaware that the chicks were born through asexual reproduction until they died due to health complications – one passed away in 2003 at age two and the other in 2017 at eight.
However, ‘the team plans on continuing future genotyping efforts in the hopes of identifying other parthenogenetic cases,’ the San Diego Zoo shared in a press release.
Oliver Ryder, the study’s co-author and director of conservation genetics for the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, said in a statement: ‘These findings now raise questions about whether this might occur undetected in other species.’
…This is truly an amazing discovery,’ said Ryder.
‘We were not exactly looking for evidence of parthenogenesis, it just hit us in the face.
‘We only confirmed it because of the normal genetic studies we do to prove parentage.
‘Our results showed that both eggs possessed the expected male ZZ sex chromosomes, but all markers were only inherited from their dams, verifying our findings.’