How some animals have ‘virgin births’: Parthenogenesis explained
Some animals can produce offspring without mating. Here’s how it works.
The vast majority of animals need to breed to reproduce. But a small subset of animals can have offspring without mating.
The process, called parthenogenesis, allows creatures from honey bees to rattlesnakes to have so-called “virgin births.”
Such events can shock those who care for the animals. Examples include a zebra shark named Leonie, housed with other female sharks at Australia’s Reef HQ Aquarium, who stunned her keepers in 2016 when three of her eggs hatched into living pups.
A few years earlier, at Louisville Zoo, a reticulated python named Thelma—who had never even seen a male python—laid six eggs that developed into healthy young snakes. And in 2006, at England’s Chester Zoo, a Komodo dragon named