The First California Condor Chicks hatched from unfertilized Eggs

Changing nature is the rule of nature, the natural process found in everyone whether it is human beings or animals or birds. Evolution is the major phase of life that everyone has to deal with one day. Similarly, birds go through the evolution that we are seeing now. 

The First California Condor Chicks hatched from unfertilized Eggs
The First California Condor Chicks hatched from unfertilized Eggs

We read that for creating a new life reproduction is necessary, in every living organism, but nowadays we are seeing some rare things and instances that we never heard of. Meanwhile, Asexual reproduction in birds can be seen, which means a new one can be born without having a father. Is that possible? You are definitely thinking that I must be kidding right? Oh, unfortunately, No. it is true anyway. Read the article to know more about this remarkable discovery.

The first two instances of asexual reproduction have been confirmed in the California condor species that has reached the line of extinction since 1987 when they found the last remaining species that were captured as part of a last-ditch conservation effort by the US government that has been taken to preserve the engendered species. The bird that has been found is considered one of the rarest birds in the world, California’s condor numbers have drastically decreased in the 20th century due to lead poisoning, habitat loss, and poaching. And at the time of the 1980s, their total population reached as low as just 27 birds left in the world. 

However, the surviving condors were put in captive breeding programs in Southern California, and by the year 1991, California condors were reintroduced to the wild. The current estimation of California condor populations is about 500 birds, the journey of 27 to 500 is commendable all thanks to the success of wildlife breeding programs. Now, I guess you know the reason for asexual reproduction in these birds and how their quantity increased.

And now, the California condor birds are the largest North American land bird, that has a weight of up to 26 pounds and wings of almost 10 feet, isn’t it amazing? And these scavenger birds have a lifespan of 60 years. During the survey of the San Diego Zoo wildlife breeding program, scientists found the two condor chicks that hatched from unfertilized eggs and the sample taken of them confirmed each chick has the DNA of their respective mother. But, the thing is, the bird was not genetically related to a male, which means father. This means for the first time in history, the chicks are born without having a biological father. Both of the chicks are homozygous, instead of having a mix between two parents, 100% of the baby condors’ genes are the same as the mothers. It is to be noted, the chicks are also both male. Because of California condors genetic makeup, females can reproduce by themselves and can only give birth to male offspring.

And this is a remarkable discovery that changes biology history forever. Parthenogenesis is a naturally occurring form of asexual reproduction where an egg can develop into an embryo without being fertilized by a sperm, a mother is enough to give birth to them. This phenomenon is well-known in the scientific community and common in insects, but very rare in birds.

Both of the condor mothers were housed with fertile male partners, whom they had previously produced offspring with. So, this discovery is not only the first-time asexual reproduction has been seen in California condors, it is also the first time parthenogenesis has been confirmed in any bird species. And this unprecedented discovery could have far-reaching impacts on conservation and genetic science & engineering.

The findings would never have been discovered if California condors went extinct. Because they have been preserved, geneticists have comprehensive sets of information and samples about the birds since they have been brought from the forest to be saved.

These magnificent creatures of the wind have sharp vision and can fly hundreds of miles without flapping their wings. 

Stay tuned for more types of information and updates!

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