Parthenogenesis is Real. File Under: No Comment
While most of the larger species of plants, animals and insects all reproduce sexually, there are many exceptions. The New Mexico Whiptail (pictured) is a species of all-female lizard, sometimes nicknamed the ‘lesbian lizards’ who reproduce parthenogenetically, that is, without a second source of genetic material. The word parthenogenesis comes from the Ancient Greek word παρθένος (parthenos) meaning a maiden or girl, often used to denote unmarried girls who are virgins. As a proper noun, Παρθένος (Parthenos), the word was used to denote The Virgin Goddess, a title for Athena at Athens, her temple there still standing as one of the most significant ruins in the city. Genesis comes from the Ancient Greek word γιγνεσθαι (gignesthai), to be born, denoting kinship and family, but here offering a very literal description of the Whiptail’s asexual reproduction. Despite that, the Whiptails engage in a type of ‘mating’ behavior, thought to stimulate ovulation, as those lizards who do not ‘mate’ typically do not produce eggs. Many types of life forms reproduce this way or are occasionaly capable of parthenogenesis, including insects, crustaceans, sharks, birds, but so far not in mammals. Ahem.