• Weird Nature

Immaculate Conception: Animals That Have Virgin Births

"Immaculate conception" is a central theme in many religious stories, whereby a woman brings an unfathered child into the world via divine intervention. But virgin births aren’t actually possible amongst Homo sapiens, nor are they known to occur naturally in any species of mammal. But can other animals give virgin births? Surprisingly, immaculate animal conception does occur, though it remains somewhat rare, with only about 0.1% of vertebrates exhibiting the characteristic.

Parthenogenesis, as it’s scientifically known, is a form of asexual reproduction that can manifest in both plants and animals. In the latter, it means an embryo develops from an unfertilized egg. Sometimes, animal virgin births are a species exclusive way of reproducing. Other times it’s a survival feature that allows females to propagate when male suitors are limited or nonexistent. Interesting, however, parthenogenesis can also be incited by external means, such as infectious disease or artificial mediation. So read on if you would like to know about the wild world of propagating animal virgins and their G-rated ways of reproducing.