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Virgin birth: Costa Rican crocodile has baby with herself

A crocodile at a zoo in Central America has made herself pregnant, in what scientists believe could be a world first.

When animals create a baby with themselves it is called a virgin birth. Scientists have seen this behaviour before in species of fish, birds, lizards and snakes.

But it is the first known time a crocodile has done this in captivity.

The female croc lives in a zoo in Costa Rica.

What do we know?

Crocodile hatching
Image caption, Virgin births in crocodiles may be more common than we realise, scientists say

She had been living alone at Parque Reptilandia and in 2018 she laid 14 eggs.

Inside one of those eggs was a baby croc that scientists have since discovered has 99.9% the same DNA as its mother.

As a result, scientists now believe more reptiles living in the wild might have been able to have a baby with themselves in the past, but without testing, it would have gone unnoticed by humans.

We see it in in sharks, birds, snakes and lizards and it is remarkably common and widespread

Dr Warren Booth, Virginia Tech, US

So what could this mean for science?

Image caption, The crocodile discovery could tell us more about dinosaurs

Scientists are excited.

As crocodiles are descended from dinosaurs, this information could lead to new discoveries about the creatures that walked the earth in the Triassic Period some 250 million years ago.

And it’s good news too for the “vulnerable” species of American Crocodile. which is at risk of becoming extinct.

Discovering crocodiles are capable of becoming pregnant and laying eggs by themselves is good news for the scaly creature that’s at risk of becoming extinct.

Source: BBC