Pregnant aphids

Hello everyone! Just read the column about aphids being born pregnant, and about the parthenogenesis bit. Cecil said that there’s only one case of parthenogenesis in humans, does anyone know any details about that?! That seems really strange, considering what parthenogenesis is and that our reproduction is sexual… Any ideas?

I believe Cecil refers to the superstitious belief Jesus (of son-of-God fame) was born parthenogenically. As the story goes, the Angel of the Lord gave Mary an offer she could not refuse. (Or perhaps did not even notice).

An interesting sidelight - Catholic Church dogma invented shortly after the civil war declares Mary herself to have been conceived parthenogenically. Mary’s AKA “The Immaculate Conception” refers to her birth, not Jesus’. The logic whereby they arrived at this conclusion escapes me.

Cecil might have said “two cases” of human parthenogenesis, but only the first example is actually recorded in the Bible. The Pope and his droogies manufactured the second.
(Also, btw… Mary herself is mentioned only three times in the entire book).

Nickie? There is lots to make fun of in the Catholic Church, but if you get your information all wrong, you are the one who looks silly.

Immaculate Conception refers to the idea of Mary being born without Original Sin. Tradition names Joachim (sometimes called Heli, from Eliachim) as Mary’s father, so there is no impetus to say she was conceived parthenogenetically.

If you want to call the Immaculate Conception silly, that’s your privelege, but calling it parthenogenesis just displays your error.


I wonder how these terms apply to creatures born pregnant, but have are inseminated in the womb rather than being able to self-fertilize. I am refering to a specie of mite mentioned in “The Panda’s Thumb”, by Stephen Gould. Unborn mites mate before birth, so the mites are born pregnant, but perhaps with a more traditional pregnancy.

One known case of virgin birth??? Cecil must have been been flippantly making reference to the birth of Christ. I guess he was overlooking other “virgin births” that occur in many different religions/myths. Greek and Roman myths (religions in their day) ascribed divine conception to uncommon mortals. It is one of the ubiqitous mythological motifs that is shared across cultural and geographical boundaries. It surprises me that Cecil (even in passing) makes note of only one “known” case of parthenogenesis.

Do you have any examples of parthenogenesis in other religions? The only one I can think of offhand is Athena springing from Zeus’s head. (That’s why Athena’s temple is called the Parthenon, but I’m sure everyone knew that already.) Of course Zeus and Athena were gods not humans. Also, Greek and Roman paganism is generally acknowledged as mythology today. Christianity isn’t, at least not yet. While I hope not to stir up a “what’s religion vs. what’s mythology” debate, that might be why Cecil said there was only one known case. It was a tongue-in-cheek reference anyway and wouldn’t have been funny (or made sense) if he’d said there were only a few dozen known cases.

Also, I believe in Greek and Roman myths, the gods actually have intercourse with the women.

“Yeah, you chew a little Juicy Fruit–it’s good for your soul.”

Parthenogenesis also occurs in some reptile species; one of the most common lizards around my place, the New Mexico whiptail lizard (nemodophorus neomexicanus) (not sure I spelled that right) reproduces this way. I also have heard that it has occurred in turkeys; fertile eggs being laid without a tom being around. Anyone know?

More on whiptail lizards and parthenogenesis

From this website:
<<The three Whiptail Lizards on view in the Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians all play a part in one of the greatest mysteries of nature. The New Mexico Whiptail, pictured here, is an all-female species that is actually a mixture of the other two examples on display at the Museum – the Western Whiptail, which lives in the desert, and the Little Striped Whiptail, a denizen of grasslands.
Most products of crossbreeding, such as the mule, are sterile. But the New Mexico Whiptail, as well as several other all-female species of whiptail lizard, does reproduce, and all of its offspring are female. Moreover, it reproduces by parthenogenesis – its eggs require no fertilization, and its offspring are exact and complete genetic duplicates of the mother.

Scientists understand only partially how this reproductive mode developed, and it raises many questions. One of the most intriguing is how this cloning affects the lizard’s ability to adapt to environmental changes. Since there is no genetic variation except that which occurs through mutation, the New Mexico Whiptail cannot evolve as other species do.

The New Mexico Whiptail Lizard also offers an extraordinary opportunity to learn more about the role of sperm in fertilization, as well as about cloning. >>

I just wanted to mention, too, that aphids of the family Eriosomatidae do reproduce sexually. They produce offspring that have mouthparts that are too undeveloped to feed, and they live just long enough to breed and lay eggs.
(and the lizard is spelled: Cnemidophorus neomexicanus)


I sit corrected. You’re right.
I had swallowed that crapola hook, line, and
sinker, from my father years ago. So much for parental infallibility. Thank you for pointing out my ignorance. It was easily remedied by a visit to The Catholic Encylcopedia.

I did not, however, call the Immaculate Conception “silly.” (After reading the aforementioned definition, though, I might be tempted to use the word “baffling”).

As to getting my facts straight before spouting off - if everyone did that, Unca Cece might be working at Burger King, n’est-ce pas

I was conceived immaculately - because as far as I would care to know, my mother is pure and virtuous and would never engage herself in revolting sexual behavior, the very thought of which makes me sick so it DIDN’T HAPPEN, OK? If you say anything different about her I’ll reach through the net and beat the crap out of you! :slight_smile:

This reminds me of a stupid joke that manages to take lots of otherwise intelligent people by surprise:

Q. “Have you ever had a [slang for a woman’s privates] around your neck?”

Typical response, given before the person gives himself enough time to think:
“No, that’s sick!”

(It doesn’t work on those born by Caesarian.

I went to a picnic with my father but went home with my mother.