Virgin Birth – Not So Miraculous

Parthenogenisis as a means of creating a female-only culture has been mooted in a number of feminist SF books, including Ammonite by Nicola Griffith and the Holdfast Chronicles by Suzy McKee Charnas. But could it work?

Well there’s one reptile species, the New Mexico whiptail lizard, that is entirely female. Also, biologists working in zoos have known for some time that various species of sharks, reptiles and birds can get pregnant without male intervention. That includes animals as large as a Komodo Dragon. However, it was uncertain whether this was natural behavior or a stress reaction brought on by living in zoo conditions. Now Nature reports that two species of viper have been proven to exhibit parthenogenesis in the wild. Unlike the whiptail lizard, these are species that normally reproduce sexually, but are now known to use parthenogenesis as well. Those serpents, eh? Always causing mischief for the Patriarchy.

As far as I know, no mammal has ever been seen to exhibit parthenogenesis. Also, given the mammalian chromosome structure, any child of a virgin birth would be female.

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2 Responses to Virgin Birth – Not So Miraculous

  1. Alex Bledsoe says:

    I’m pitifully ignorant on the science of this, but I do wonder if parthenogenesis was known among the cultures that also venerated the idea of a virgin birth in their religions.

  2. Den Poitras says:

    You might try the above link as well as this one: http://www.cultofdivinebirth.com
    Scholar/author, Marguerite Rigoglioso, is a dear friend and colleague of mine. Information regarding this “subject of subjects” is re-emerging. The Hopi Indians have been saying for decades that we are entering a time when we’ll see the return of the “sacred feminine”. Good luck, and please feel free to share your thoughts.

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