01 June 2015

Celebrate diversity: What the sawfish saw

Welcome the latest member of the parthenogenetic club, the smalltooth sawfish!

This case is interesting not only because it adds yet another case of facultative parthenogenesis to the list, but because it’s one of the few times facultative parthenogensis has been seen in wild populations. The bad news is that this might be because the sawfish is endangered: the population is so low that the fish are resorting to “last gasp” reproductive efforts.

A “boo” to this Miami Herald article, though, for confusing the religious doctrines of immaculate conception (conceived without original sin) with virgin birth (conceived without a father).

Hat tip to David Shiffman.


Fields AT, Feldheim KA, Poulakis GR, Chapman DD. 2015. Facultative parthenogenesis in a critically endangered wild vertebrate. Current Biology 25(11): R446-R447. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.04.018

External links

Virgins gone wild
Father, son and holy sawfish! Researchers find ‘virgin birth’ in Florida endangered species 
Sawfish spawn without sex
Sawfish escape extinction through 'virgin births', scientists discover

Picture by Anna Pang on Flickr; used under a Creative Commons license.

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