Endangered sawfish enact Jurassic Park prophesy

Chris Burns - Jun 1, 2015, 1:02 pm CDT
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Endangered sawfish enact Jurassic Park prophesy

Researchers find free-living parthenogenesis in the wild for the first time in history. Parthenogenesis is one type of asexual reproduction which, in this case, has a creature developing from an unfertilized egg. A female sawfish will give birth to a baby sawfish without the aid of a male sawfish. It’s been observed that this type of reproduction is taking place in the wild in an area where this particular species of sawfish is endangered. In other words: “Life finds a way.”

According to a crew of researchers lead by Andrew T Fields, they’ve discovered that the smalltooth sawfish (Prictis pectinata) is capable of facultative parthenogenesis. This is the ability of a sexually reproducing species “to sometimes produce offspring asexually.”

ABOVE: smaltooth sawfish, Ocean Conservancy, 2007.

While they assert that this ability has been known to appear in a “wide range” of animals in captivity, this ability has never been observed in any said species in the wild.

This includes some birds, sharks, and reptiles.

Sound familiar?

This research team’s findings suggest that parthenogenesis may have “adaptive significance.”

They say that “parthenogenesis would be found most often at low population density, when females risk reproductive failure because finding mates is difficult.”

You can find the full paper under the title “Facultative parthenogenesis in a critically endangered wild vertebrate” in Volume 25, Issue 11, 2015 of the scientific journal Current Biology.

This paper was authored by Andrew T. Fields, Kevin A. Feldheim, Gregg R. Poulakis, and Demian D. Chapman. Code: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.04.018.

Today must be a day of endangered species making their mark on the news waves – we also have a story about endangered antelope that are meeting a VERY QUICK end in Kazakstan this week.


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