Chattanooga Zoo in Tennessee proudly shared the news that one of their female Komodo dragons was expecting three hatchlings last year. However, the zoo has since discovered that the female - named Charlie - created the babies through a process called parthenogenesis.
The zoo carried out DNA tests on the young animals to determine if they were the offspring of a male Komodo dragon, called Kadal, or if they were a product of parthenogenesis, which turned out to be the case.
An expert from the zoo explained that female Komodo dragons carry sex chromosomes of WZ with males carrying ZZ.
In a statement the zoo explained: "When parthenogenesis occurs, the mother can only create WW or ZZ eggs. Eggs with the sex chromosomes of WW are not viable, leaving only ZZ eggs to produce all male hatchlings."
Parthenogenesis is extremely rare, with the first recorded case in Komodo dragons occurring back in 2006.
In a post on Instagram, the zoo added: "In the wild, Komodo dragons mainly live isolated and often become violent when approached, which has allowed these animals to evolve to reproduce both sexually and parthenogenetically."
The zoo had placed Charlie and Kadal together in hopes of them breeding, but it turns out Charlie didn't need the assistance of a fella and decided to procreate all by herself.
The three male hatchlings, named Onyx, Jasper, and Flint, are now six months old - the zoo says they're 'growing rapidly and doing well'.
Dardenelle Long, Chattanooga Zoo CEO and president said: "Our staff is thrilled to play a part and to be able to witness this truly miraculous occurrence. As the Komodo dragon is listed as vulnerable to extinction, these hatchlings are even more special and represent a bright future for their species."
Although they look pretty cute right now, once fully grown Komodo dragons can weigh a whopping 91kg (14.3st) and measure 2.6m (8.5ft).
Featured Image Credit: Chattanooga Zoo
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