When is a Clone Not a Clone

Bees do it. Lizards and snakes do it. Turkeys and Komodo Dragons can do it. Have babies without daddies, that is. It’s called Parthenogenesis. And it’s sort of when a clone isn’t a clone. Parthenogenesis a form of asexual reproduction in which growth of the embryo occurs without fertilization. The growth of the embryo begins due to a change in temperature, a mechanical action, or a chemical action. The term applies only to animals. (Botanical asexual reproduction is called something else.) And since the offspring are clones of the mother, they are usually female. This phenomenon was first observed in aphids and recorded by Charles Bonnet in the 18th century. In 1899, Jacques Loeb reported artificial parthenogenesis in sea urchins. Gregory Pincus used temperature and chemicals to induce embryonic development in rabbit eggs in 1936. Today, some sources say about 70 vertebrates can reproduce this way and if you include all organisms that number will top 2000 species. Some species are obligatory parthenogenic, in other words, they cannot reproduce sexually at all. Other species are facultatively parthenogenic, meaning they have the ability to switch between sexual and parthenogenic reproduction. There have been no known natural parthenogenic offspring in mammals. There […]