A female crocodile, which had been isolated for a long 16-year period, has been found to have borne a bunch of eggs. This discovery has thrown more insights into the phenomenon of ‘virgin birth’, and is the first ever recorded case among crocs.
Such a trait of virgin birth also showers much light into its evolutionary origins. As per a report quoting a study on this subject, this trait of evolutionary origins could also lead much findings on the reproductive capabilities of dinosaurs.
The virgin birth phenomenon was discovered in an American crocodile, which had been taken into captivity back in the year 2012. The crocodile was a 2-year-old when it was picked up and housed in an enclosure in Costa Rica’s Parque Reptilandia.
Crocodile virgin birth phenomenon recorded in Costa Rica
The crocodile which remained alone in the enclosure for 16 years since captivity has been seen as having laid 14 eggs. The discovery was made in the month of January, 2018. This has brought all focus of scientists into the phenomenon of virgin births, also called in scientific terms as facultative parthenogenesis (FP).
Facultative parthenogenesis is explained as asexual reproduction in species that would normally reproduce sexually. Such traits have been earlier found in species such as birds, sharks, lizards and snakes in captivity species. However, this is the first time that facultative parthenogenesis is discovered in the crocodilia family, which is inhabited by crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gharials.
The 14 eggs which were laid by the crocodile have been subject to further study. The Parque Reptilandia in Costa Rica also tried to incubate the eggs, but they failed to hatch. They zoo keepers waited for three months for them to hatch, but the wait turned futile. They then opened the eggs, and when they did that, they found the contents of six of the eggs was not discernible.
Fetus analysis proves it is identical to mother
However, one of them was found to contain a fully-formed, but non-viable fetus. Genetic analysis of this fetus proved that it was identical to its mother.
Studies are currently progressing on that front. Scientists are also of the opinion that the virgin birth trait in a crocodile was similar to that in birds. They assume that as birds and crocodiles have descended from dinosaurs, a common evolutionary origin needs to be further researched upon.