Researchers have provided fascinating insights on parthenogenesis or virgin birth in snakes recently. Facultative parthenogenesis or asexual reproduction in any other sexually reproducing species seems to be very common in snakes and could signify a potentially vital feature of vertebrate evolution.
Whereas, obligate parthogenesis, wherein organisms solely reproduce via asexual means, is very rare in snakes. The researchers have claimed that this review has provided the essential first steps required to investigate the origin and evolution of parthenogenesis among snakes.
Co-author Dr. Warren Booth said, “Once considered evolutionary novelty, facultative parthenogenesis has now been documented in increasing number of vertebrate species, ranging from hammerhead shark to domestic turkeys, komodo dragons to snakes; however it is this last group that offers us greatest insight into this unusual reproductive trait”.
Furthermore, he said that after recently been documented in natural populations and in a variety of lineages within the snake phylogeny, including from the boas and pythons through to the water snakes and pitvipers, they considered earlier studies that identified commonalities and variations, offering fresh insight into the extraordinary trait within snakes.
He added that on the basis of their findings, they have proposed splitting facultative parthenogenesis into two forms within snakes and thus classifying snakes as perfect model species to carry out research in the evolution of vertebrate parthenogenesis.