No, this isn't something out of an Octavia Butler novel. It’s Tetrahymena thermophila — a single-celled organism that goes way beyond male and female. It has seven different sexes to choose from. Now a new study published in PLOS has finally made sense of its bizarrely complex and seemingly random sex life.
For the past 80 million years, a tiny water-borne organism called the bdelloid rotifer has lived and thrived without the benefits of sexual reproduction. Now, while asexual reproduction is nothing new to science, the way that these rotifers go about it is particularly unique: They eat DNA found in organic debris. The…
Facultative parthogenesis, commonly known as "virgin birth," isn't unheard of in the animal kingdom, but it's especially rare among vertebrates. And while it's been observed in snakes in the past, never before has it been identified in any wildspecies. Until now.
Chalk another one up to Jeff Goldblum — researchers say that female pit vipers, like the copperhead snake pictured up top, have joined the growing ranks of animals known to be capable of reproducing asexually, i.e. without mating with a member of the opposite sex.
When a pair of freshwater fish species reproduce together, they create hybrids who are able to reproduce asexually. This ability should offer the hybrids an unstoppable evolutionary advantage...so why aren't we bowing down before our asexual fish hybrid masters?
Sea squirts might not look like much...they're simple, hermaphroditic creatures that barely even have a brain. But they have a particular knack for activating the enzyme telomerase, which protects DNA from degradation. That unexpected talent could help fight human aging.