31 December 2010

Celebrate diversity: Cornucopia!

Parthenogensis and other unusual forms of reproduction were in the news a surprising amount this year. There were just enough other things to write about that I didn’t have a chance to write them up in detail. In some cases, though, others did that for me.

For instance, the peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) made New Scientist’s “coolest animals of 2010” list. Fiedler and colleagues have a more extensive review of the genus.

Boa constrictors are well-known, often kept as pets, and nobody suspected parthenogenesis in this species until this year! This was written up in lots of places (here, here, here) and the paper is still officially in press.

Finally, another parthenogenetic reptile made the news, not so much because it was parthenogenetic, but because of the way this new species was discovered. It was found as cuisine in Vietnam. This was written up here and here, and surely other places.

A more flattering picture of this interesting little beast is below.

2010 was the year of biodiversity. And I love how these stories show that there are still many more discoveries to be made, both in species we know, and species we have yet to describe scientifically.


Booth W, Johnson DH, Moore S, Schal C, Vargo EL. Evidence for viable, non-clonal but fatherless Boa constrictors. Biology Letters. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2010.0793

Fiedler GC, Rhyne A, Segawa R, Aotsuka T, Schizas N. 2010. The evolution of euhermaphroditism in caridean shrimps: a molecular perspective of sexual systems and systematics. BMC Evolutionary Biology 10: 297. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2148/10/297

Grismer JL, Grismer LL. 2010/ Who’s your mommy? Identifying maternal ancestors of asexual species of Leiolepis Cuvier, 1829 and the description of a new endemic species of asexual Leiolepis Cuvier, 1829 from Southern Vietnam. Zootaxa 2433: 47–61. http://www.mapress.com/zootaxa/2010/f/z02433p061f.pdf

Lysmata grabhami picture by Phillipe Guillaume on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Boa photo from here.

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