Cookie use on MRCVSonline
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
 
 
Send Cancel
Virgin birth found in wild vertebrates
First time "evolutionary novelty" found in wild animals

Researchers in the US have found a form of virgin birth in wild vertebrates for the first time, after genetically analysing pregnant females from two snake species.

They found that North American pit vipers reproduced without a male in a phenomenon called facultative parthenogenesis, previously only found in captive species, and scientists say the findings could change our understanding of animal reproduction and vertebrate evolution.

Thought to be extremely rare for normally sexual species, asexual reproduction was first identified in domestic chickens and, in recent years, reported in a few snake, shark, lizard and bird species.

However, all such "virgin births" have occurred in captivity to females kept away from males, and have in general been considered "evolutionary novelties."

Professor Warren Booth, from the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, worked with a team to investigate virgin births in copperhead and cottonmouth female pit-vipers, where males were present.

Professor Booth, lead author of the paper published in the Royal Society's Biological Letters, said of the: "I think the frequency is what really shocked us. That's between 2.5 and 5% of litters produced in these populations may be resulting from parthenogenesis."

He added: "That's quite remarkable for something that has been considered an evolutionary novelty."

Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

Cats Protection launches helpline for grieving cat owners

News Story 1
 A free, confidential helpline for grieving cat owners has been launched by Cats Protection.

Supported by online guides and leaflets, the Paws to Listen service offers owners emotional and practical help in coping with the loss of a cat.

The service comes as survey findings reveal that 75 per cent of cat owners believe the public underestimate how much the death of a cat can affect its owner.

For more information visit www.cats.org.uk or to speak to a volunteer on the Paws to Listen phone line, call 0800 024 94 94.  

News Shorts
BEVA welcomes new junior vice president

Renate Weller has been elected as junior vice president of the BEVA. Renate is professor of comparative imaging and biomechanics at the RVC and has been an active member of the equine veterinary profession for more than two decades.

Commenting on her new role she said: "I am committed to the vision of a BEVA that fully listens to and embodies the interests of those it represents in all discussions over the future of our profession, and the education and regulation of the allied professions to whom our clients may turn. "