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Immaculately conceived turkey

December 23, 2014

BBC Science article on parthenogenesis (virgin birth).

I’ve long-known about Komodo (and other reptile) parthenogenesis but didn’t know it occurred in birds:

Perhaps the best understood ‘virgin’ vertebrate is the common domesticated turkey. In the 1800s, reports started appearing of virgin births among chickens. Then researchers started studying similar events among turkeys, finding that these large fowl could lay unfertilised eggs that produced live young.

The baby turkeys were always male, however, which was put down to a quirk of bird genetics in which male sex chromosomes are dominant. Soon a parthenogenetic strain of the domestic turkey was developed in which most males appeared normal and reproduced successfully.