No Boys Allowed

7 animals that have asexual "virgin births"

Sometimes yourself is all you need.

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Endangered female California condors have an ability observed in just a few other bird species: according to new research, they can reproduce without a mate.

On October 28, researchers writing in the Journal of Heredity reported that two California condors in a captive breeding program hatched chicks that had no biological fathers.

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What’s even more intriguing: the female condors had access to a mate, and both had bred with males before.

But in these cases, they chose to reproduce by themselves.

Scientists think this is the first case of asexual reproduction among birds who had access to a mate.

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The process, called parthenogenesis, happens when a female creates an embryo from her own genetic material.

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Though most species in the animal kingdom have sex to reproduce, roughly 2,000 are thought to have the ability to create offspring through asexual reproduction.

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Why some species reproduce asexually is still a mystery to scientists.

But research suggests it can have evolutionary benefits, in some cases creating more resilient gene lines or helping animals procreate in less-than-ideal breeding conditions.

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Here are 7 surprising species that can reproduce without a mate:

7. Some snakes

A captive female yellow-bellied water snake in Missouri gave birth in 2015 despite not having sexual contact with a male for 8 years.

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Though not common in snakes, asexual reproduction has been documented in a number of species, from the Burmese python to the Brahminy blind snake.

6. Whiptail lizards

New Mexico whiptail lizards are an entirely female species — thanks to their ability to create embryos on their own.

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There are about a dozen species of lizards that primarily use parthenogenesis to make babies.

It might even give them an evolutionary advantage since they can reproduce more quickly when they don’t need a mate.

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5. Some sharks

It’s very rare for sharks to reproduce asexually, but a few cases have been recorded in captivity.

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For example, a zebra shark named Leonie birthed pups in 2017 after her partner was moved to a separate tank in 2013.

It may have been a last resort for Leonie — some animals will asexually reproduce when breeding conditions just aren’t ideal.

4. Brazillian yellow scorpions

Species such as the Brazilian yellow scorpion have the ability to asexually reproduce, but like sharks, it might have to do with their situation.



In July, researchers described an experiment where they isolated scorpions to see if they would be able to reproduce on their own.

Sure enough, they did — but when compared to scorpions in the wild, it seemed that asexual reproduction wasn’t the norm.

3. Tardigrades

These tiny invertebrates that survive in almost any environment also have the ability to reproduce asexually.

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Some colonies are reportedly all-female due to their ability to reproduce through parthenogenesis.

But other tardigrades are hermaphroditic, meaning they can create both eggs and sperm.

2. Termites

Typically, termite colonies are 50/50 male and female. But in 2018, researchers described populations of termites in Japan that are entirely female.

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Other insects like bees, wasps, and ants live in female-dominant colonies and can reproduce asexually, too.

1. Nematodes

Asexual reproduction may make these deadly parasites even deadlier.

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In 2017, after looking at the genes of asexual vs. sexual nematodes, researchers found asexual lineages tended to do more damage to plants.

Their genetics seem to make them more adaptable to new environments and plant hosts.

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