Scientists confirmed that each condor chick was genetically related to the respective female condor (dam) that laid the egg from which it hatched. However, they found that neither bird was genetically related to a male -- meaning both chicks were biologically fatherless; and accounted for the first two instances of asexual reproduction, or parthenogenesis, to be confirmed in the California condor species.
Additionally, the two dams were continuously housed with fertile male partners. So, this parthenogenesis discovery is not only the first to be documented in condors, but is also the first discovered through the use of molecular genetic testing, and the first in any avian species where the female bird had access to a mate. [...] Both of these females had also produced numerous offspring with their mates -- one had 11 chicks, while the other was paired with a male for over 20 years and had 23 chicks. The latter pair reproduced two more times following the parthenogenesis. [...]
Researchers were able to confirm this novel finding at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance by leveraging comprehensive data collected throughout the successful and collaborative California Condor Recovery Program. For over 30 years, conservationists have conducted extensive genetics and genomics research, using samples of blood, eggshell membranes, tissues, and feathers to gather hereditary data from 911 individual condors. They were able to cross reference historical genetic records before confirming the outcome of this distinctive case of parthenogenesis.
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Conservation Scientists Report First Confirmed Hatchings of Two California Condor Chicks from Unfertilized Eggs.
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