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A female anaconda gave birth without help from a man, according to the Massachusetts aquarium where it happened.
Anna, an 8-year-old anaconda at the New England Aquarium in Boston, used the very rare reproductive strategy called parthenogenesis, which resulted in two live baby anacondas, a press release from the aquarium said.
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The 10-foot, 30-pound snake is kept in an all-female figure, so if the staff of the found Anna in the process of delivering her litter in January, she suspected it was parthenogenesis — which means “virgin birth” in Greek, according to the release — all they had to rule out other possibilities.
“This is the product of a very unusual process that we need to go through testing to confirm what we suspect,” aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse told The Boston Globe.
The other two female anacondas in the exhibition were checked to confirm their gender and then Anna’s history was checked and double-checked to confirm that they are not exposed to a male, and her babies were a result of the delayed implantation of the embryo, the release said.
An 8-year-old anaconda at the New England Aquarium has given birth without the help of a man, a rare reproductive process is called parthenogenesis. Only two of her litter survived past the first few days.
(New England Aquarium)
After those options were eliminated, the baby snakes had tissue samples sent for DNA analysis.
“Many weeks later, the results confirmed what most of the Aquarium staff had the suspicion that Anna had reproduced nonsexually, or by parthenogenesis, also occurs in the wild,” the release said.
“It is a little bit of excitement in terms of the birth, but also a success because the mystery was solved,” LaCasse told The Globe.
Although some of the offspring of parthenogenesis can have different DNA from their mother, Anna of the two surviving babies showed “full matches on all of the sites tested,” the release said, adding: “These two young appear to be genetic copies or clones of the mother.”
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“henogenesis is much more common in the plant and insect worlds,” the release explained. “This process, in which a female organism to multiply themselves without fertilization from a male, is extremely rare in vertebrate species, or animals without a backbone.”
This is only the second confirmed case of parthenogenesis in a green anaconda. The other case happened in a United Kingdom zoo in 2014.
DNA analysis confirmed that the two young snakes “appear to be genetic copies or clones of the mother,” a press release said.
(New England Aquarium)
While Anna delivered some boy in her litter, many had come and a third newborn died a few days after her birth.
The other two, who are now 2 feet long, are thriving, according to the release. The staff have their different personalities. The thinner anaconda “laid back” and the heavier of the two “more inclined to explore,” the release said.
They are not on exhibition, but to be cared for and treated behind the scenes.
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“The more they get used to the treatment, the better we are able to treat them, especially if they are adults,” LaCasse told The Globe. “They are currently very popular with our staff because they really take to be treated.”