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Immaculate Conception In a Boa Constrictor

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the gold-frankincense-and-mice dept.

Science 478

crudmonkey writes "Researchers have discovered a biological shocker: female boa constrictors are capable of giving birth asexually. But the surprise doesn't end there. The study in Biology Letters found that boa babies produced through this asexual reproduction — also known as parthenogenesis — sport a chromosomal oddity that researchers thought was impossible in reptiles. While researchers admit that the female in the study may have been a genetic freak, they say the findings should press researchers to re-think reptile reproduction. Virgin birth among reptiles, especially primitive ones like boas, they argue may be far commoner than ever expected."

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478 comments

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Wow (4, Funny)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120382)

This can only fuel the cult of Raptor Jesus to unimaginable new heights.

Jurassic Park (1)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120396)

Isn't this what happened in Jurassic Park?

Poor little baby snake (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120398)

If i remember correctly, the last time this happened it didn't end well.

guys doomed (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120400)

If women get their hands on the secret behind this, it could be the end for men

Incorrect title (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120406)

Immaculate conception != virgin birth.

Immaculate Conception doesn't mean virgin birth (5, Informative)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120408)

A lot of people make the mistake of equating "Immaculate Conception" to the virgin birth of Jesus. Actually, it refers to the birth of Mary (mother of Jesus) being born without Original Sin. What the author is referring to is the Annunciation, which is the virgin conception of Jesus within Mary.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaculate_Conception [wikipedia.org]

Not Immaculate conception (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120418)

Immaculate conception refers to the birth of Christ without the original sin, not to the actual "virgin birth."

Immaculate Conception? (-1, Redundant)

Aliotroph (1297659) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120422)

I thought that referred to Jesus being born without sin rather than to Mary being a virgin.

Immaculate Conception? (5, Informative)

Imnimo (1264154) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120424)

This is not what Immaculate Conception means. The Immaculate Conception is the conception of Mary, not of Jesus, with the idea being that Mary is conceived without original sin so as to make her a proper vessel for Jesus. Then again, since snakes don't have original sin, maybe every snake conception is immaculate.

And the chromosomal oddity is... (5, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120428)

Two WW chromosomes. In mammals, we have X and Y chromosomes to determine sex—but in reptiles, fish, and of course birds, the norm for a female is ZW, and the norm for a male is ZZ. This brought to you by Tilde R: Helping Those Who Hate RTFA.

Firssst posss.... (3, Funny)

yamum (893083) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120430)

sssssst

Jesus? (1)

qsqueeq (586979) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120432)

Is that you?

Pedantic nit... (4, Funny)

Burning1 (204959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120434)

Asexual reproduction isn't the same as virgin birth.

For all we know, that snake is a slut.

Theological pedantry (1, Informative)

lochutus (530278) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120436)

okay, so I don't really want to be a pedant, buuuut... Immaculate conception is birth without sin, that is without the blemish of original sin. What you're talking about here is virgin birth. common misconception (no pun intended). Nothing to see here, please carry on

Jurassic Park was right? (1)

Wrexs0ul (515885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120444)

First Spielberg/Chrichton makes movie Raptors 6ft tall before they find real ones, now female lizards can spontaneously reproduce?

Someone should be asking those guys about their reality-altering machine.

-Matt

Not immaculate conception (2, Informative)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120448)

It's not immaculate conception, it's a virgin birth. They are different. Immaculate conception means born without original sin (as in Mary was born without original sin and thus Christ was too). If you want more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaculate_Conception [wikipedia.org]

I know this is a common misunderstanding but it is incorrect. I'm not Catholic, I've just been corrected about it in the past and thought I'd pass on the knowledge.

That is so cool. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120452)

I always wondered where telemarketers came from.

Chromosomal Oddity (4, Informative)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120454)

The summary skips out on the interesting detail there

The mother in question gave birth to not one, but two snake litters of all-female snakes with WW-chromosomes. Male snake cells have two Z chromosomes, while female snakes have a Z and a W. This is the first time a reptile has been seen with two W chromosomes, something thought peculiar to fish and amphibians. The snakes' litters also retained the mother's rare genetic coloring

Also direct links to the study are here [royalsocie...ishing.org] and here [royalsocie...ishing.org] (pdf). The paper is "Evidence for viable, non-clonal but fatherless Boa constrictors" by Warren Booth, Daniel H. Johnson, Sharon Moore, Coby Schal, and Edward L. Vargo.

Holy.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120464)

Raptor jesus..

No no no. Mary was conceived without original sin (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120482)

So she is the immaculate conception, she was not born of a virgin, she was a virgin.

Jesus was born of a virgin.

What could be simpler to understand? For crying out loud people! This is GOD we're talking about!

the immaculate conception does not refer to jesus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120494)

it's mary's birth from *sexual* reproduction.
i'm an atheist and i know that.

Simply saying that... (1)

Erelas (1077365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120498)

Life, uh... finds a way

Did they just... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120500)

...validate Jurassic Park?

(remember the frog genes they say they used?)

Dr. Ian Malcom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120506)

"Life finds a way."

Sorry, I can't help it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120508)

More Common.

Rejoice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120520)

There is hope yet for slashdotters making little baby geeks!

Oh wait, you need to be female to undergo parthenogenesis? Never mind, false alarm there guys :-(

Raptor Jesus is real! (1)

srodden (949473) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120524)

That is all.

What 'immaculate conception' means (0, Redundant)

Phanatic1a (413374) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120526)

It doesn't mean 'virgin birth.' Immaculate Conception is the Catholic doctrine that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was herself conceived free of Original Sin. It's got nothing to do with the other Catholic doctrine of the virgin birth, which is that Mary was impregnated with Jesus without any sexual intercourse occurring.

Hope this helps.

This is scientific proof! (1)

omnibit (1737004) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120534)

That Mary may have been a boa constrictor after all

Sorry, I can't help it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120540)

More Common. Not Commoner.

This is scientific proof! (0, Redundant)

omnibit (1737004) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120542)

That Mary was a boa constrictor after all.

The Goldblum Paradox (1)

AmigaHeretic (991368) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120548)

Henry Wu: You're implying that a group composed entirely of female animals will... breed?
Dr. Ian Malcolm: No, I'm simply saying that life, uh... finds a way.

so I am right after all... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120552)

...and my ex-girlfriend is wrong. That ISN'T my child!

Please remove this story at once. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120554)

Topics of a sexual nature are confusing to the average slashdotter!

I, for once,... (2, Funny)

Lord Juan (1280214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120560)

welcome our new immaculate boa overlords (or shall I say overladys?).

It's called parthenogenesis... (1)

Slartibartfast (3395) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120566)

And it's actually fairly common in the insect world. Worker bees, for example, lay unfertilized eggs (which, as always, give birth to "drones," or male bees, the same as when the queen lays unfertilized eggs). But for bees, this is almost certainly a throwback to millions of years ago, before the current roles were set in stone -- as drones are incapable of fertilizing non-queens, and workers wouldn't be laying if there were any queens in residence. The modern day outcome is A Bad Day, though in years gone by, it was probably quite the neat survival mechanism. Ants and others also have similar stories. Reptiles? Reptiles do do weird stuff -- e.g., some frogs can change gender, perhaps even at will -- but parthenogenesis is a new one on me. Fun time to be a he herpetologist, and not just because of Harry Potter!

It's not Immaculate Conception (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120574)

As TFA says, it's "virgin birth." The Immaculate Conception was when Mary was conceived without original sin, so she would be prepared for the later virgin birth. This was all probably retconned into the story anyway, but at least get your mythology right!

Troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120578)

fRist

The Goldblum Paradox (-1, Redundant)

AmigaHeretic (991368) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120588)

Henry Wu: You're implying that a group composed entirely of female animals will... breed?
Dr. Ian Malcolm: No, I'm simply saying that life, uh... finds a way.

I'm not religious but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120590)

Immaculate Conception is not the Virgin Birth.
A snake conceived free from Original Sin sounds like God's idea of a paradoxical joke.

Immaculate Conception (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120592)

So the snake was born without sin?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaculate_Conception#Common_misinterpretations

Sorry, I can't help it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120594)

More common. Not commoner.

Poor little snake (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120608)

Last time this sort of thing happened, I remember it didn't end well for the fellow. What was his name?

Oh well. Good luck, baby snake.

immaculate conception != asexual conception (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120612)

"Immaculate conception" doesn't mean "asexual conception". See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaculate_Conception [wikipedia.org]

I'm not catholic but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120614)

I'm pretty sure the Immaculate Conception was Mary which supposedly freed her of original sin, not Jesus which had no father involved. So they think Reptiles are sin free? Hmmmm. OK

Immaculate Comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120622)

This comment is the child of just this article.

Immaculate Coneption /= Virgin Birth (0, Redundant)

Krelar (109540) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120626)

Too bad immaculate conception doesn't mean virgin birth.

Faggot nerds. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120628)

This is what you fucking nerds get for being faggots: obsolescence.

from 2007 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120630)

from 2007 [bbc.co.uk]

Not Baby Jesus, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120634)

Boa Jesus?

Boa Constrictor Without Sin? (0, Redundant)

boppacesagain08 (1317259) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120638)

Unfortunately, immaculate conception has to do with being born without original sin, not children without semen.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaculate_conception [wikipedia.org]

Thanks for playing.

Grammar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120640)

Far commoner ?... Really?

The Immaculate Conception isn't Jesus... (-1, Redundant)

THE anonymus coward (92468) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120650)

The Immaculate Conception is Mary's (Jesus' mother) conception. Catholics and Orthodox believe that she was conceived in the normal way, but God gave her a special grace to be conceived immaculately, that is without sin. Jesus' conception is known as the Incarnation, since that was God becoming Man. I know that this has nothing to do with the article, but it is so often confused and so rarely clarified, I had to speak up.

Commoner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120654)

"More common."

Commoner (0, Flamebait)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120662)

It has a meaning... but not "more common". Sheesh.

So Jesus's mother has... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120674)

...more in common with the snake than she does with Eve?

So Jesus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120676)

WAS a velociraptor...

Snakes on a virgin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120678)

"commoner"...really?

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120680)

... Jurassic Park already told us about reptiles doing this!

interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120692)

so, in light of this, why do we not see asexual reproduction throughout the myriad of critters still alive today?

the second coming is here!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120694)

now with baby jesus boas?

Joy to the World... (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120696)

The Boa Jesus is Born!

Wrong title (0, Redundant)

Guillermito (187510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120698)

Quoting from Wikipedia

The [Immaculate Conception] doctrine states that, from the first moment of her existence, Mary was preserved by God from the Original Sin and filled with sanctifying grace that would normally come with baptism after birth. Catholics believe Mary "was free from any personal or hereditary sin". Mary's immaculate conception should not be confused with the [virginal] Incarnation of her son Jesus Christ; the conception of Jesus is celebrated as the Annunciation to Mary. Catholics do not believe that Mary, herself, was the product of a Virgin Birth

I for one.. (1)

morty_vikka (1112597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120702)

I for one.. ah, fuck it.

Immaculate Conception != Virgin Birth (0, Redundant)

Tebriel (192168) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120704)

A common misconception, but the Immaculate Conception refers to Mary, not to the virgin conception of Jesus.

It's the flying spaghetti monster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120706)

it's come for us...

Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120712)

Doesn't anyone take Biology 101 anymore? This is ancient news. Like, pre-internet news. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parthenogenesis#Reptiles

Perfect for farming... (1)

SirLars (871223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120714)

they should cross these with a pig, so we can get 18' of pork ribs that self reproduce!

Immaculate conception? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120720)

The boa constrictor was born free of the stain of original sin and preserved from it until giving birth?

Get It Straight (0, Redundant)

drissel (123701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120732)

Virgin Birth is a different dogma from Immaculate Conception. If you're gonna be sarcastic, ya gotta be exact.

Not Immaculate Conception (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120734)

Immaculate conception != parthenogenesis
Immaculate conception == conception/birth without the stain of original sin
Parthenogenesis is virgin birth

Hmmmm (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120738)

Virgin birth and talking snakes? Where have I heard that before?

Aha! (1)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120746)

Yet more proof of creationism. Just look at the word parthenogenesis. It's got the word genesis right in it!

"Immaculate Conception" (0, Redundant)

XanC (644172) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120748)

In Roman Catholic theology, the Immaculate Conception was the conception of Mary, whom they hold to have been conceived without original sin, that is, immaculate.

This has nothing to do with the Virgin Birth, which appears to be what the summary is aiming for.

"Virgin Birth" != Immaculate Conception (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120754)

Even most Catholics seem to get this wrong so I won't hold it against the poster, but dogma of the Immaculate Conception does not describe the virginal conception of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, but it the conception of Mary in her mother's womb without Original Sin. It was because she was conceived without Original Sin that she was able to be the mother of Christ.

If anyone cares, I'm an agnostic lapsed Catholic, but still annoyed at how often people screw this up - especially people who claim to be pious or "good Christians", although I'll admit it doesn't help that the media messes it up all the time too.

Not a Shocker (1)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120756)

Unless you're not a Biologist

Not a Shocker (1)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120768)

Unless you're not a Biologist. Damn /.'s new interface. If it ain't broke then DON'T FIX IT. This is /., NOT FACEBOOK.

No, it's virgin birth (0, Redundant)

HolyChao (7909) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120770)

No, that is not "immaculate conception."

Virgin Birth is making a baby (e.g., Jesus) even though you're a virgin. Immaculate Conception is making a baby (e.g., Mary) that does not have Original Sin. Entirely different concepts.

I bet you faggots are all real happy about this! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120772)

One more reason to have sex with women just went right out the door! Go celebrate, you fucking nerds.

Incorrect title (0, Redundant)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120778)

I know that the editors are trying to claim that this is like the birth of Jesus (peace be upon him), but the title "immaculate conception" is inaccurate. The "Immaculate Conception" of Mary (pbuh) is a title given by Catholic doctrine; that she herself was born without the stain ("immacula" in Latin) of Original Sin. (Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] ) It is not meant to apply to the birth of Jesus (pbuh)

The title should have read "Virgin Birth in a Boa Constrictor."

Virgin Boa Birth (1)

Lershac (240419) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120780)

Whaaaaaaaaat?

Truly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120784)

It is the Son of God!

1? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120794)

Fuckin first?

Makes founder events more likely. (2, Interesting)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120798)

Interesting tidbit: The vast majority of known snake species are capable of swimming. Get a snake washed out to sea, let it drift between islands on flotsam, and with this mutation, a lone female is suddenly capable of being the foundation of a new population in a new ecosystem.

While not advantageous to individuals, this female-only birth trait would be a powerful force in mass extinction events, as it leads to a diverse set of multiply adaptive groups being formed, each specialized in a different direction for a different ecosystem niche. If a meteor equivalent hits, and all the rules of living change to some degree, you have a greater chance of having some in the right niche to survive.

The downside is if female-only births become too common, you stand a chance of losing genetic diversity in the smaller groups - so it being in the background like this, only occasionally popping up makes sense for a species that might have gained benefit from it in more ancient life cycles.

Ryan Fenton

Darn you, commoners!! (1)

Anonymous Cow Nerd (1871092) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120802)

"Virgin birth among reptiles, especially primitive ones like boas, they argue may be far commoner than ever expected." commoner = a peasant more common = correct YES I am aware I need to get laid.

What to name the baby (1)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120804)

If it had feathers they should definitely name it Quetzalcoatl

niggersaurus (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120812)

vs. philosoraptor..

who wins?

Immaculate conception? (0, Redundant)

jspenguin1 (883588) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120824)

So, the snakes were the product of normal intercourse, but were born without original sin?

Come on, I'm not even Catholic and I know the difference between Immaculate Conception and Virgin Birth.

Poor "explanation" of the Miracle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120826)

This article is trying to imply that Raptor Jesus might have been conceived through natural processes. It's a pagan trap - don't fall for it.

More common, not "commoner" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120836)

More common, not "commoner"

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120838)

The researchers actually said 'far commoner' rather than 'far more common'? I don't know if that is grammatically correct or not, but it sure does sound awkward.

*commoner* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120840)

"...may be far commoner than ever expected"

I didn't realize they were British.

Immaculate conception? (-1, Redundant)

jspenguin1 (883588) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120844)

So, the snakes were the product of normal intercourse, but were born without original sin?

Come on, I'm not even Catholic, and I know the difference between Immaculate Conception and Virgin Birth.

immaculate conception != virgin birth (0, Redundant)

eddymulyono (927783) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120854)

immaculate conception != virgin birth
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