Explaining a virgin birth by means of a serpent? God must have a sense of irony. Jennifer Viegas writes on Discovery News:
An eastern diamond rattlesnake recently gave successful birth five years after mating, according to a new paper that describes this longest known instance of sperm storage, outside of insects, in the animal kingdom.
The study, published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, also presents the first documented virgin birth by a copperhead snake. In this case, the female never mated, proving that snakes and certain other animals can either give true virgin — dadless — birth, or may store sperm for long periods.
Actual mate-less virgin birthing, known as parthenogenesis, “has now been observed to occur naturally within all lineages of jawed vertebrates, with the exception of mammals,” co-author Warren Booth told Discovery News. “We have recently seen genetic confirmation in species such as boa constrictors, rainbow boas, various shark species, Komodo dragons, and domestic turkeys, to name a few.
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