San Diego Zoo welcomes first ever avian parthenotes


Think you know how babies are made? You sure? Because the San Diego Zoo just published peer-reviewed research demonstrating the existence of the first two known avian parthenotes.

In layperson’s terms: two condors were hatched from eggs that weren’t fertilized. This form of asexual reproduction is uncommon, but it happens. We’ve just never observed it in birds.

Let me stop right here though. Before I get too far, I hereby forbid you from falling in love with these two amazing little queer birds. Because, as the peer-review process for something like this is evidently quite long, they’ve both since passed away.

Here’s the good news though: scientists used to think parthenotes were nonviable beyond the embryonic stage.

Well, a big raspberry to those scientists because the first condor lived to be two years old and the second made it to seven. Those are still tragically early deaths for condors – which are known to live up to 60 years – but, scientifically speaking, this is some really cool stuff.

Here’s the thing, these birds are endangered. Scientists have previously observed parthenogenesis in species of large snakes, monitor lizards, and Komodo dragons, but the ramifications of its manifestation in a species on the brink of extinction are huge.

See, it turns out that the world of biology is no more capable of existing in a binary than anything else in our demonstrably quantum universe.

Not only does the existence of parthenotes and asexual reproduction across the spectrum of the animal kingdom indicate that a “male/female” paradigm is a nonsensical approach to biology, but it reinforces the idea that non-heteronormative sexual reproduction paradigms are intrinsically necessary to the long term survival of any species.

If the condors recover from the brink of extinction it’ll be thanks to evolution, not traditional family values.

We could all learn something from California’s condors.


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