California condor chicks hatched in ‘virgin start’


The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance introduced Thursday that two feminine critically endangered California condors had efficiently hatched eggs with out the assistance of male condors. 

The invention of parthenogenesis, or asexual copy, was a primary for the species and was achieved by the usage of molecular genetic testing, the group mentioned. 


The occasion was detailed this week by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s conservation scientists within the American Genetic Association’s Journal of Heredity

The scientists explained that in a routine evaluation of organic samples from the 2 condors within the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s managed breeding program, they confirmed that every condor chick was genetically associated to the respective feminine condor that laid the egg from which it hatched. 

Scientists at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance discovered two California condor chicks have hatched from unfertilized eggs. This sort of asexual reproduction, known as parthenogenesis, is a first for the species and provides new hope for their recovery.

Scientists on the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance found two California condor chicks have hatched from unfertilized eggs. This form of asexual copy, often known as parthenogenesis, is a primary for the species and gives new hope for his or her restoration.
(San Diego Boo Ghost Wildlife Alliance @sandiegozoo)

Neither fowl was discovered to be genetically associated to a male condor – and researchers examined 467 male condors within the breeding pool as potential fathers – although the 2 mom condors, or dams, had been repeatedly housed with fertile male companions. 

The discover, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance mentioned, was the primary in any avian species the place the feminine fowl had entry to a mate.     

“That is really an incredible discovery,” Oliver Ryder, the examine’s co-author director of conservation genetics at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, mentioned in an announcement. “We weren’t precisely on the lookout for proof of parthenogenesis, it simply hit us within the face. We solely confirmed it due to the traditional genetic research we do to show parentage. Our outcomes confirmed that each eggs possessed the anticipated male ZZ intercourse chromosomes, however all markers had been solely inherited from their dams, verifying our findings.”


Along with the California condor parthenotes, each dams had additionally produced quite a few offspring through sexual copy with their mates. One had 11 chicks and one other who was paired with a male for greater than 20 years had 23 chicks and reproduced twice extra following the parthenogenesis.

Parthenogenesis – also called a “virgin start” – is a pure type of asexual copy wherein an embryo that isn’t fertilized by sperm continues to develop, containing solely the genetic supplies of the mom. The offspring are known as parthenotes. 

The method is comparatively uncommon in birds and cases had been confined primarily to home birds and usually noticed in females who don’t have any entry to males. 

California condors are a critically endangered species and the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance mentioned it was by the California Condor Restoration Program and genetics and genomics analysis that scientists had been capable of “cross-reference historic genetic information earlier than confirming the result of this distinctive case of parthenogenesis.”

Though one chick died in 2003 on the age of two and the opposite in 2017 on the age of seven, the researchers mentioned they’d proceed future genotyping efforts within the hopes of figuring out different parthenogenetic instances. 


“These findings now increase questions on whether or not this would possibly happen undetected in different species,” Ryder mentioned.

Breeding efforts to save lots of California condors have produced more than 1,000 chicks and, following the reintroduction of some to the wild, the inhabitants has elevated to more than 500 each in human care and free-flying in California, Arizona, Utah and Baja California.

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