31st Aug 2016, 7:49 AM
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LilyRose 3rd Aug 2016, 7:49 AM edit delete
Chapter Thirteen

A Brief Interlude Of Undetermined Importance

Scientifically, a Virgin Birth is called Parthenogenesis, and, yes, it is real; there are species of animals that reproduce asexually, mostly insects, mollusks, and it is seen in a number of reptile and amphibian species. It has been reported in Mammals, although most sources report that the offspring do not live for more than a few days.

There are basically two forms of parthnogenesis. To understand them, you have to remember your basic biology.

When a normal cell reproduces, it is by a process called mitosis -- that's when the chromosomes in the cell all duplicate themselves, then each set go to opposite sides of the cell, and the cell splits. Each cell then has a full set of identical chromosomes.

When an egg is produced, that's the process called Meiosis. Here, the diploid (the double-strand helix) sort of "unzips", and each single strand then goes to the opposite sides of the cell. Then the cell splits, creating two haploid cells -- each one containing half of the full complement of genetic material.

Then a normal division occurs -- resulting in four haploid cells. In a female, one of the four contains most of the cytoplasm, and that becomes the egg. The others, called polars, are reabsorbed into the body.

Okay now. In the most common form of parthenogenesis, the egg does not undergo this reductional division -- that is to say, the resulting egg is not a haploid but a diploid, containing the full set of chromosomes. In other words, the female has cloned herself. She has an egg cell that is already diploid, and will then begin development of the embryo. In animals where the embryo brought to term, this results in the Virgin Birth.

The other form of parthenogenesis is called Automictic Parthenogenesis. In this case, the egg is a haploid, but, one of the polar haploids, rather than being reabsorbed into the female's body, re-enters the egg cell, resulting in the egg being fertilized by the daughter cell. The female has fertilized herself.

Although this is practically unknown in mammals, there is a report I read about a rabbit that was induced to parthenogenesis by thermal shock. It is theorized that this kind of somatic shock can spark the process. This experiment, btw, is reported to have taken place in 1939.

The theory, as far as I understand it at the moment, is that there is a gene that controls Parthenogenesis. It is currently a topic of research by geneticists.

Basically, all parthenogenesis should result in female offspring, although there are snakes that have been observed to give birth to males through parthenogenesis. This has been explained by the female having dissimilar sex chromosomes.
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