back to article Sawfish are the VIRGIN MARYS of the SEA thanks to virgin births

Piscine boffins have discovered a number of sawfish which they believe are the first virgin-born animals ever found in the wild from a sexually reproducing species. In a Current Biology article titled Facultative parthenogenesis in a critically endangered wild vertebrate, the marine boffins document the first examples of …

  1. AbelSoul

    Something fishy about this.

    Good heavens, what next?

    The Immaculate Crustacean?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Something fishy about this.

      Son of Cod?

      1. knarf

        Re: Something fishy about this.

        Cod of Cod

    2. Martin Budden Bronze badge

      Re: Something fishy about this.

      Praise Jibbers!

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Must have been a god of some kind involved!

  3. Mage Silver badge

    Some Female Lizards in the Wild

    But there are no males at all. I think a species in Mexico or New Mexico are entirely clones. I've never understood how that can work in the long term.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: Some Female Lizards in the Wild

      "...entirely clones. I've never understood how that can work in the long term." --- Mage

      Although sexual selection does seem to offer some benefits, it is absolutely not a requirement for reproduction or evolution. If you are wondering how anything can actually evolve in the absence of sexual selection, well, mutation provides much of the heritable variety in large groups of organisms.

      It's been a long time since I was a geneticist, but certainly when I was, it was not entirely clear what the specific advantages of sexual reproduction were (although it was clear there must be some). I think there are some reasonably hypotheses now. The Wikipedia page seems to be of a reasonable quality (in common with much of the scientific content) if you're interested.

      1. Grikath

        Re: Some Female Lizards in the Wild @ John H Woods

        Must have been *quite* a while then.. between recombination and paternal and maternal masking at meiosis alone , you get the advantage of having a backup in case mutation ends you up with something undesireable, and a *much* higher expression of , potentially beneficial, mutations in the phenotype. It's all about rigging the numbers to be able to fill the existing habitat as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

        I do like the flame-bait in the article though. But if even single-celled eukaryotes see reason to produce gametes on occasion, and even bacteria see fit to merge and do some DNA hussling if circumstances allow, I think I can safely say that "males" are pretty much indispensible in the whole process.

      2. Hollerith 1

        Re: Some Female Lizards in the Wild

        I thought it was pretty well accepted that genders arose to help mix it up in the genes department, because a lot of variation helps protect the species in the face of endless threats. If you've covered all bases, then no matter what disaster Mother Nature throws at you, the species will have a few individuals that survive. This seems more efficient than relying on the also-occuring random mutations. But if you need to reproduce and you are too thinly spread to find a mate, you go for parthenogenesis and hope random mutations protect the species. Or, if you are in a stable enivronment that isn't throwing threats at you, why complicate things? Stick to parthenogenesis.

      3. Vic

        Re: Some Female Lizards in the Wild

        it was not entirely clear what the specific advantages of sexual reproduction were

        Might I suggest you get out a bit more?


    2. GBE

      Re: Some Female Lizards in the Wild

      > I've never understood how that can work in the long term.

      Maybe it hasn't yet -- how long have they been there?

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Some Female Lizards in the Wild

        Whiptail lizards.

        Scary that komodo dragons can do it. They have an interesting predation method:

        1) Bite prey, transferring infected gloop.

        2) Follow prey till it dies from infection.

        If you find one following you, you may need an antibiotic.

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: Some Female Lizards in the Wild

          Some people think the Komodo may also have venom due to finding some evidence of venom sacs or spaces for them. I think the juries out on it but leaning towards venom, I may be out of date though.

          Other monitor lizards (related family (which they now think also may be slightly venomous)), use similar tactics, the mouths are full of bacteria you do not want to be bitten by some of them

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Some Female Lizards in the Wild

          Komodo dragons are pretty comfortable attacking prey such as pigs or deer and ripping them to pieces. The much larger Water buffalo will sometimes escape and will instinctively run into the water and die of sepsis, because the water is dirty not because of bacteria from the Komodo dragon's mouth(observation of which in the 70's started this myth). They do have venom glands and this venom can hinder coagulation but no dirty mouths.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He's a very naughty boy....

    Use of the word 'Virgin' in both title and subtitle has spawned loads of Branson based stories in the 'more from the register' section at the bottom of the article. Unless he's the new messiah of course. He has the beard, if nothing else.

  5. oswdt

    Cancer also may be body's attempt to clone itself by asexual reproduction, but the process does not go into completion because mammals lack the full mechanism for controlling the process.

  6. MrDamage

    Not surprised

    How else would they reproduce? Just imagine the carnage involved when the lady sawfish engages in oral foreplay with boy sawfish. John Wayne Bobbit knows what I'm talking about.

  7. Extra spicey vindaloo

    I always thought

    That there was a type of african frog, that during drought years where food and water is scarce started reproducing asexually, but when the rains came they got busy down the pond with anything that walks.

    A lot of the keywords I'm trying to find on google are not allowed at work, so I'm expecting an email from the BOFH about now.

  8. Ed_UK

    Virgin birth? In good company!

    That would be in common with...

    Krishna (debated)





    Attis (born on December 25 of the Virgin Nana)



    Qi, the Abandoned One

    Lao-tse ( conceived when his mother gazed upon a falling star)






POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021