Nov 10, 2010

Self-Cloning Lizard

First off, a small apology. This gal isn't really that ugly. That said, it's interesting enough that I'm posting it anyway (plus it's a lizard, and it gets points for that, right?). Anyone who came looking for a new excursion into the depths of hideousness might want to look away.

What you see here is the newly discovered (to science) species Leiolepis ngovantrii. Newly discovered to science, not to the locals in its native Vietnam. What makes it so interesting is that the species consists entirely of females, and reproduces by parthenogenesis, a process where the females spontaneously ovulate and resulting eggs re-fuse, resulting in a healthy baby clone, which is genetically identical to the mother. This isn't actually that rare a reproductive strategy, as about 1% of all lizard species use it.

The sadder part of this story comes from how it was discovered. Like a lot of recently "discovered" species, it was well known in its native region. Unfortunately, that condition usually means that the newly discovered species can be found on the menu. That was the case here, it's been the case in the past, and I'm sure it will be in the future. All we can do is hope that we find these guys before they're all gone.

Picture and info courtesy of National Geographic


Anonymous said...

What a cutie!

April Lorier said...

Looks like what I used to play with as a child in New Mexico! Brings back fond memories!