WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- An anaconda named Anna, living in an all-female exhibit at the New England Aquarium got pregnant and gave birth to two babies without mating.
- The 8-year-old anaconda had a non-sexual reproduction process called parthenogenesis, which, according to Google, allows reproduction from an ovum without fertilization from a male.
- The newborn anacondas are genetic copies or clones of their mother, according to DNA testing.
In January, an 8-year-oldnamed Anna, living at the New England Aquarium in Boston gave birth to two babies. However, Anna is housed in an all-female exhibit, meaning the young snakes were reproduced through the “extremely rare reproductive strategy” called parthenogenesis.
The nonsexual reproduction, according to the aquarium’s blog post on Thursday, is also known as the “virgin birth.”
After DNA testing, it was confirmed that the young green anacondas babies appear to be genetic copies or clones of Anna, according to the aquarium.
Parthenogenesis is more common in the plant and insect kingdoms. It allows a female organism to replicate itself without fertilization from a male. Anna’s case is only the second confirmed case of parthenogenesis in green anaconda. In 2014, three baby anacondas were born at a United Kingdom zoo in 2014. The process also happens in the wild.
Last winter, the aquarium staff found the newborn snakes in the aquarium’s rainforest exhibit. The 10-foot mother snake was still delivering more babies at the time. Unfortunately, most of the babies were stillborn, which the aquarium says is common in the process among vertebrate species. Three babies survived the birth but one of them later died.
The aquarium said the two young snakes have since “thrived,” but are not yet on display. The newborns eat about once a week and have been held every day of their lives so far. It was intentional as the staff wants the young anacondas to be accustomed to people and handling as this will make checkups or procedures easier as they grow bigger.
In parthenogenesis, it is not common to produce babies that are DNA copies of their mother, the “limited genetic sequencing done for these two young snakes shows complete matches on all the sites tested,” according to the aquarium.
The young anacondas are exact clones of Anna but they have different personalities. The aquarium described the “thinner” snake as “laid back,” while its “heavier” sibling is a bit more adventurous and explores its surroundings.