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

BVNA names charity of the year

News Story 1
 The Daphne Shipman Benevolent Fund has been named as BVNA’s charity of the year. The fund was created to support BVNA members, their spouses, relations or dependents in times of need. It was set up in memory of Daphne Shipman, who was the BVNA Congress chief steward for a number of years, but sadly lost her fight against cancer in 1999. Team BVNA will be climbing the O2 to raise funds and awareness. A JustGiving page has been set up: justgiving.com/daphneshipman-benevolentfund  

News Shorts
World Health Organisation names new director general

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been announced as new director-general of the World Health Organisation.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus served as minister of foreign affairs, Ethiopia from 2012–2016 and as minister of health, Ethiopia from 2005–2012.

He has also served as chair of the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; as chair of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership Board; and as co-chair of the Board of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.