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A Crocodile’s First Virgin Birth

By: Isabella Wong

After living alone in the same habitat for 16 years, a crocodile laid an entire clutch of eggs, complete with embryos, all by herself. Typically, when an organism gives a virgin birth, the eggs will not be able to be hatched or reproduce. However, when scientists took a closer examination of the eggs, one of the eggs managed to produce a stillborn baby crocodile.

Researchers claim that the baby crocodile was an example of a parthenogen, or a virgin birth. A possible reason behind this is that when an egg cell is matured in the mother’s body, it divides until half of an organism's genetic makeup is developed. Sometimes, the chromosomes in the cells can merge with the egg, leading to the creation of another cell that could result in the development of a living organism.

In the case of the baby crocodile, parthenogenesis was likely inherited from the evolution of its ancestors, dinosaurs. However, this cannot be confirmed without the testing of dinosaur DNA, from fossils, which is currently inaccessible, so scientists will have to find alternatives to confirming this theory in the future.

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