We’ve been handling alarm calls from Mother Nature for quite some time, and as the environmental conditions worsen, animals and ecosystems find new ways of survival. This is exactly the case with smalltooth sawfish that are a species on the edge of extinction.
To increase chances of survival, these particular fish have found new ways to reproduce, now without the help of a male to fertilize the female structures. Sawfish have recently resorted to virgin births in the wild, writing new and innovative chapters in all biology journals.
It seems that this discovery has a great potential of designing new landmarks on the way reproduction in vertebrates proceeds. As conditions and possibilities in our contemporary ecosystems and habitats change, species of animals find new paths to make life go on, adapting to harsh conditions.
Florida estuaries that host female sawfish revealed living offspring produced without the help of a male. More than 3% of the sawfish analyzed by researchers were the result of a very innovative reproductive strategy. The findings are published in the journal Current Biology and are now available to our wonder and surprise.
Divine intervention or increased biological adaptability, it’s now in the hands of biologists to conclude.
The phenomenon seems to be pretty common in certain fish species.
The alternative form of reproduction found in female sawfish species is also known as parthenogenesis, as the species routinely reproduce without any male input whatsoever.
This is indeed good news if we think of survival of the species, although it drains the genetic diversity of a population. However, with this new reproductive habit, critical periods of survival can be overcome.
Such observations in regards to asexual breeding have also been observed in certain species of sharks, fish and snakes that are kept in captivity, where zookepers remained speechless in front of the so called Immaculate Conception.
However, this is the first time when such phenomena happens in wildlife or rather the first time it’s been observed by eyes that are keen on details. The reproductive history in vertebrates is now taken to another level that offers a fertile ground for research.
The smalltooth sawfish is part of the ray family that owns the particularity of having studded saw shaped nose extensions, used to attack smaller fish. This species grows several meters in length and is found in Southern Florida. Smalltooth sawfish are prone to extinction as a cause of overfishing and habitat loss.
Image Source: wired.co.uk