I happen to live in St. Louis and have seen this 62 year old ball python. She just laid eggs. Reports indicate she did this without the help of a male. You can search the web for the story. I thought it was pretty cool. I love the reptile house at our zoo.
wow that was very unexpected
I saw it from reptile magazine she is the oldest ball python in the earth
This is more than likely a case of partho, i don’t think they retain sperm that long. I could be wrong though. This female had not been in with a male for at least 15 years.
I wonder if parthenogenesis is along the same lines as rodelization in plants. Where the female basically pollinates itself as a last effort to keep the species going?
Also does parthenogenesis change the sex ratio of the clutch as their is no male DNA.
If only we had a geneticist that also specialises in plants
While I am a neurogeneticist and not a plant geneticist, and my answer will undoubtedly not be as informative as @t_h_wyman’s, I can give input.
The presence of sex linked traits (banana, coral glow) in ball pythons indicates that they use an XY chromosomal system, and so females that undergo parthenogenesis should only produce female offspring. These can either be clones of the female (mostly genetically identical with the exception of recombination/cross over, de novo mutations), or half clones caused by doubling of a single chromotid - these offspring will be pretty much completely homozygous. This potentially means that if you had a female that was het for a trait, she could produce visual morphs if parthenogenesis occurred via this mechansim. It depends how the diploidy was restored during the process of meiosis. I am not sure if anyone has done studies on which is occurring in ball pythons
A study of parthenogensis in Burmese pythons, showed that the offspring were mostly genetically identical to the mother – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12634818/
I’ve always thought it would be a fun thing to study, so if anyone wants to buy a hundred or so various female het hatchlings and raise them for 30-50 years without breeding them, let me know. We could probably get a cool paper out of it
As Mary states, this is likely parthenogenesis.
The reason why parth happens in animals is still not greatly known, but the supposition is that it is a “last ditch” effort to preserve genetic information.
And yes, the sex ratio is altered. Partho clutches produce all females
That paper is kind of a train-wreck. Warren Booth has done a lot more work in the past few years and shown that the parthenogens are half-clone. This is why we know that parthenogenesis happens at rather high frequency in captivity, because we see so many “impossible visuals” from het x non-het pairings. Or superforms from single-gene pairings
Awesome, I’ll have to find some of his newer papers. While people always talk about how rare of an occurrence parthenogenesis is, it definitely seems to happen somewhat commonly in captive ball pythons, which is so cool. I would love to have it happen one day
This article says the snake is 50 years old so now i’m confused.
This one just says over 50 years old.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch said she is 62 years old. I have a friend who works in the reptile house. He told me they had a normal ball python. I was like, okay, not super exciting. Then he showed me feeding records going back a LONG time.
So is the null allele theory gone? (Obviously not related to this particular animal)
In all the cases of partho I’ve seen the babies are all female. Basically they are clones of the mother. Or at least that’s what ive read.
Kind of sad that she doesn’t have a name for historical records. Very beautiful snake. I had no idea that some reptile species would be able to reproduce asexually. O.O
There are a few lizard species that are all female (meaning no males have ever been found) and only reproduce asexually. The most commonly kept as a pet is the Mourning gecko.
talking about parthenogenesis its interesting and that true! most of the time parthos clutches r all females a good example is the brahimy blind snake that reproduce nearly exclusevly with partho and all brahimi blind snakes r females
This is a common misconception. Except in cases where there was no male present to contribute genetic material, if they were clones of mom how would you know it was partho and not bad odds? In the majority of partho clutches in ball pythons today, the female presents genetic material twice, so it’s more reasonable to look at it like her offspring are what would result from breeding the female back to herself. Example: I had an enchi mojave het hypo that laid a partho clutch, there was a super enchi hypo, and 5 super mojave hypo in the clutch. If the subject interests you, I would look into Dr. Warren Booth’s work, really fascinating.
I was referring to cases of partho in other herps that ive read about. This is the first time I’ve heard of it in ball pythons as they arent really my thing. I know the few cases ive read about it occurring with komodensis were documented this way and there were a handful of other herps as well.
Daily Mail: Ball python at zoo lays eggs, but hasn’t been near a male in 15 years.