Three Komodo dragon eggs hatched in September, which was fantastic news for the endangered species and the Chattanooga Zoo in Tennessee. The young were created without the assistance of the zoo’s resident male dragon or anybody else but the mother Charlie, according to a revelation revealed on the Zoo’s Facebook page.
Mammals do not undergo parthenogenesis, the process of giving birth without the presence of a male, with the exception of a few unproven, 2,000-year-old stories. The situation is different with invertebrates. Although uncommon among reptiles, it is not unheard of. For instance, a water dragon at the Smithsonian National Zoo laid eggs last year after being separated from men ever since attaining sexual maturity.
It’s possible that the Hollywood version of Godzilla (the Matthew Broderick one) had a scene involving this aspect of reptile reproduction, although Komodo dragons don’t. In the movie, Godzilla and her progeny are both female, potentially making the process endless. In parthenogenesis, it is typical, but not for Komodo dragons. The zoo’s three newest hatchlings are all males.
Unlike mammals, reptiles employ a wider range of sex selection genes. Some species utilize the temperature at which the eggs were incubated to determine sex rather than chromosomes at all. Others add to the complexity.
While male komodos have two Z chromosomes, females have a W and Z. A single W or Z chromosome from the mother is given during parthenogenesis, which leads to its duplication. “Only WW or ZZ eggs can be produced by the mother when parthenogenesis takes place. Only ZZ eggs can result in all-male hatchlings because eggs with the WW sex chromosome are not viable.
There is therefore no chance of an all-female dragon era characterized by fast reproduction without the need to wait for males.
The zoo had been attempting to mate Kadal, their male, with Charlie. Charlie, it appears, proved resistant to Kadal’s charms and followed her own path. According to the zoo’s Facebook page, “Komodo dragons in the wild mostly spend lonely lives and frequently get hostile when approached, allowing these animals to evolve both sexual and parthenogenetic reproduction.” Although they occasionally create long-term monogamous ties with the proper man, females often and frequently violently reject mating efforts.
By far the biggest type of lizard, komodo dragons may reach lengths of 3 meters (10 feet). Their confinement to four tiny to medium-sized islands in southern Indonesia, despite their outstanding hunting success, puts their long-term future in peril and encourages captive breeding operations.
The idea that dragons have mouths full of microorganisms that cause septicemia in prey has surfaced several times, but it has recently been debunked. Instead, we just discovered that they are poisonous, however it is unclear how significant this is to their hunting method.