The National Zoo’s Female Asian Water Dragon Successfully Reproduced Without a Male
by Meilan Solly Smithsonian.com
A female Asian water dragon housed at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo has successfully produced healthy offspring without the assistance of a breeding male. As researchers led by Kyle Miller, an animal keeper at the Zoo’s Reptile Discovery Center, report in the journal PLoS ONE, the unusual occurrence—officially known as facultative parthenogenesis—marks the first time this behavior has been recorded in both the Physignathus cocincinus species and the reptilian Agamidae family.
In layman’s terms, parthenogenesis refers to female reproduction conducted without any genetic contribution from a male. According to Science Direct, obligate parthenogenesis happens when organisms can only reproduce asexually, while facultative parthenogenesis takes place when species capable of sexual reproduction resort to solo methods. Although the latter variation occurs most commonly among isolated captive specimens, recent research has shown that it is also seen in wild populations.