Condor Females Don’t Need a Male to Hatch Chicks | Summary and Q&A

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November 5, 2021
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Condor Females Don’t Need a Male to Hatch Chicks

TL;DR

Female California condors have been found to reproduce through parthenogenesis, potentially expanding the breeding population, while new research reveals that baleen whales consume more food than previously thought, impacting the carbon cycle.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is parthenogenesis, and why is it significant in California condors?

Parthenogenesis is a form of reproduction where the female produces eggs that develop into embryos without fertilization. In condors, this could help expand the breeding population and remove harmful gene mutations.

Q: How do parthenogenetic offspring differ from their parents in terms of sex chromosomes?

Parthenote chicks from condors have twice as many Z chromosomes, making them ZZ and male, unlike their female parents with one Z and one W chromosome.

Q: What are the potential consequences of parthenogenesis in condors?

Parthenotes are at a higher risk of inheriting harmful alleles from their single parent, potentially leading to their death. However, their inability to pass on these harmful alleles could be beneficial for the overall species' genetic diversity.

Q: How do baleen whales contribute to the carbon cycle?

Baleen whales, through eating krill and excreting iron-rich feces, support the growth of phytoplankton. Phytoplankton, in turn, consume carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, helping remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Female California condors have laid eggs that developed into offspring without fertilization from a male, in a rare case of parthenogenesis in birds.

  • Parthenogenesis in condors could aid in expanding their breeding population and potentially remove fatal gene mutations from the gene pool.

  • Whales, such as blue whales and humpback whales, consume much more food than previously estimated, playing a crucial role in the ocean's carbon cycle.

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