Back in August 2019, a female komodo dragon named Charlie gave birth to three little dragons at the Chattanooga Zoo. The zookeepers had previously tried to hook her up with a sweet dragon fella named Kadal, but the two never really seemed to hit it off — not that the staff could observe, anyway. And now that they've tested the DNA of young Onyx, Jasper, and Flint, it's finally confirmed: Charlie and Kadal did not hit it off at all, so Charlie took it upon herself to bring the kids into the world. From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:
The DNA results showed the babies were the result of parthenogenesis, which is a type of reproduction where the female produces offspring without male fertilization. […] Female Komodo dragons carry WZ sex chromosomes, while males carry the ZZ type. When parthenogenesis happens, the mother can only create WW or ZZ eggs. Since eggs with the sex chromosomes of WW aren't viable, only ZZ eggs are left to produce all male hatchlings. Parthenogenesis is considered very rare, with the first case of a successful parthenogenesis reproduction in Komodo dragons recorded in 2006.
I was personally fascinated to learn that there are so many different categorizations of asexual reproduction, and that it can indeed occur spontaneously in vertebrates without any fertilization. In 2007, there was apparently a bit of a scandal involving a lab-grown human embryo that was allegedly cloned, but turned it to be a productive parthenogenesis. There are also living human beings with some unique chimeric complications in which they were both fertilized by a male, but also underwent some kind of parthenogenesis at the same time, resulting in a male offspring with Y-chromosomes in his skin, but not in his blood. Read the rest
Just don't piss them off.
You look like you could use a baby elephant video. Read the rest
When was the last time your eyeballs feasted on something that wasn't a part of the dumpster fire we call a news cycle? It's been a while for me and I'm betting the same can be said for you too. Here: get a load of this greater one-horned rhino calf pestering its mother to play with him. There is running. There are head butts. There is so much joy here that you won't know what to do with yourself. Read the rest
It's a few years old, actually, but this video of a cute baby owl "dancing" to a fuzzy owl-shaped comforting toy that sings “Monster Mash” is well deserving of a viral revival. Read the rest
Warning: THIS VIDEO MAY CAUSE YOU TO DIE OF CUTENESS.
Happy Caturday. Ah, listen to this 9-day-old kitten's adorable squeals! Boing Boing pal Miles O'Brien was learning how to fly his camera drone with one hand after becoming one-handed. At the drone flying range near Washington, DC, a friend had a few 9-day old kittens hanging out on a blanket.
If you would like to adopt one of them, contact Nikki Driver at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nikki is a vet, so they're in good hands. She and the kittens are near Charlottesville, VA. Read the rest
Imagine giving birth to a baby and not being able to tell for weeks whether it's a boy or a girl. That's pretty much how life rolls for pandas — a species that, we've pointed out here before, are already saddled with incredibly complicated sex lives. Read the rest
Beautiful footage of Weddell seals in Antarctica — on the ice and under the water.
So cute, you'll ERMAHGERD all over the place.
It's not just adorable! Grooming is actually an incredibly important part of keeping this baby sea otter healthy. Joanne Manaster visited the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and came back with a whole post for the PsiVid blog about the science of cute baby animals.
When an otter is raised by humans, there are many skills they need to learn, including how to feed themselves, groom themselves, and to sleep in the water. Unfortunately, once they are habituated to humans, they will not gain the skills needed to hunt, so cannot be released into the wild. On the other hand, the otter raised by the surrogate will gain all necessary skills and may be released to the wild in the future.
That's why Toola—the world's most influential otter—was so important. Those habits, including grooming, are a big deal in the wild.
Read the rest
From Shedd’s website: “Keeping the pup’s thick fur clean, dry and fluffed is essential to her survival. Sea otters are the only marine mammals that aren’t wrapped in an insulating blanket of blubber. Instead, they have about 1 million hairs per square inch of skin, divided into an outer layer of thick guard hairs and an inner layer of dense, wooly underfur honeycombed with millions of tiny air pockets. The layers work together to keep water out and body heat in. If the fur becomes matted or fouled with pollutants such as oil, cold sea water penetrates to the otter’s skin and the animal can quickly succumb to hypothermia.