Anna Francis

Parthenogenesis in Komodo dragons

- 16th Aug, 2013

Research showed that the Komodo dragon could produce young from unfertilised eggs.

The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is arguably the most charismatic and high profile of all the reptile species maintained in captivity. It is Red Listed as Vulnerable and continues to decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation and poaching of its staple prey.

Herpetological staff at the Zoological Society of London and Zoological Society of the North of England noted unusual reproductive behaviour in their respective female dragons. Both females had laid clutches of viable eggs without access to a male dragon.

In conjunction with researchers from the University of Liverpool and the University of Florence genetic fingerprinting of hatched young at London Zoo and embryonic tissue from non-viable fertile eggs at Chester Zoo was undertaken.

This confirmed that both clutches were produced by parthenogenesis, the production of offspring without fertilisation by a male. This is the first time that this reproductive strategy has been recorded in Komodo dragons.

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