Animals Give Virgin Birth, So Why Not Humans?

Female sharks do it, as do female komodo dragons, so is it possible for humans? Very likely yes, says Dr. Allan Pacey, a reproductive biologist at the University of Sheffield.

What's the Latest?

Fatherless pregnancies happen more frequently in nature than we once realized, enabling species to survive harsh events when males are not present to procreate. This kind of asexual reproduction among species who would otherwise have sex to procreate is called parthenogenesis. Female sharks do it, as do female komodo dragons, so is it possible for humans? Very likely yes, says Dr. Allan Pacey, a reproductive biologist at the University of Sheffield. In the lab, female stem cells have been coaxed into becoming sperm cells, though this is something that would never occur in nature. 

What's the Big Idea?

While it might be possible for humans to use modern medical science to procreate asexually, it is probably a very bad idea for evolutionary reasons. Having a diverse gene pool is an important biological trick that weeds out genetic abnormalities, such as the kinds that plagued inbred European royalty for generations. "If you chose to reproduce entirely on your own, your child would only have one parent, and thus half the genetic diversity available to a normal child." In some inconceivable emergency, however, a generation or two could be sustained by asexual reproduction. 

Read more at BBC Future

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