Crocodile Living in Isolation for 16 Years at Zoo Experienced Virgin Birth, Scientists Say

This is the first known instance of a crocodile virgin birth, but virgin births have been recorded in fish, birds, lizards, and snakes

<p>Getty Images</p> Crocodile

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Scientists have discovered the first-known case of virgin birth by a crocodile.

Per a study in the journal Biology Letters published Wednesday, the female crocodile had been living in isolation for 16 years at a Costa Rican zoo. In 2018, the reptile laid a clutch of eggs, a common practice among captive reptiles, even those without mates. After three months of incubation, one egg contained "a fully formed stillborn baby crocodile," scientists found.

The study noted that scientists examined the crocodile fetus' genetic makeup. During this research, the experts discovered DNA sequences in the fetus that resulted from reproduction without the help of a male crocodile.

This isn't the first time there has been a virgin birth — also known as parthenogenesis, a birth without fertilization — in the animal kingdom. Scientists also cited similar situations with fish, birds, lizards, and snakes. However, this is the first-known instance with a crocodile.

Related: Zebra Shark at Chicago&#39;s Shedd Aquarium Had Pups Through Virgin Birth

Based on this new study, scientists are reexamining reproduction in crocodiles and related animals. Warren Booth, an author of the study with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, opened up to Newsweek about the insight.

"What this also tells us is that as crocodiles and birds use the same mechanism, their extinct relatives—dinosaurs and pterosaurs—are also likely to have been capable of parthenogenetic production. The idea that life finds a way—as in Jurassic Park—is not science fiction at all," Booth said.

<p>Getty Images</p> Crocodile

Getty Images


Related: Scientists Uncover First Known Cases of California Condors Born Through Asexual Reproduction

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Booth continued, "We have numerous records in birds, snakes, and lizards that record parthenogens being born and surviving. As such, with this new record, we are just starting to scratch the surface in understanding the long-term ecological and evolutionary significance of this trait."

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