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Posts Tagged ‘Chester Zoo’

The Second Coming?

Monday, February 5th, 2007

Hatching komodo dragon

In the latter part of January, an unusual event occurred at Chester Zoo in the UK. Five of the eggs laid by one of the zoo’s female Komodo dragons last May hatched out. Two fertile eggs still remain in incubation.

The event was unusual, not so much for the hatching of the dragons in captivity, but for the fact that the dragon embryos were produced parthenogenetically. The female dragon responsible, named ‘Flora’, has never been anywhere near a male. When three eggs collapsed soon after transfer to an incubator, they were sent to Liverpool University for genetic fingerprinting, which confirmed that Flora alone was the parent. All 5 hatchlings are males, the only possible result from parthenogenetic reproduction in these lizards, but are not exact clones of Flora.

Komodo dragons are the largest lizards in the world and renowned for their intelligence, as well as for eating the odd human. There are thought to be only 4-5,000 left in the wild, surviving on Indonesian islands such as Rinca, Gili Motang and several of the Lesser Sunda Islands, including Komodo and Flores. The creation myths of the first human inhabitants of Komodo, the Ata Modo, tell how man and lizard came into being when the female deity Putri Naga gave birth to twins: one child human, the other a Komodo dragon.

Dragon conversations

Just before Christmas, Chester Zoo’s Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates Curator Kevin Buley announced the imminent hatching, together with the publishing of a paper in Nature which he co-authored with scientists at Liverpool University and London Zoo. He quipped “We will be on the look out for shepherds, wise men and an unusually bright star in the sky over Chester Zoo.”

Comet McNaught over Sellick's Beach, Adelaide, Jan 24 2007. Photo © David Summerhayes

Comet McNaught over S Australia.
Photo © David Summerhayes

Christmas came and went. Then around the end of the first week in January, Comet McNaught became so bright it was visible to the naked eye. The comet swung by the sun between January 12th-14th, going on to appear in the Southern Hemisphere and develop a magnificent tail clearly visible over a 30° arc at sunset. On January 15th, the first of the baby dragons hatched.

So now, following the appearance of a comet in the sky, we have a virgin birth …

The last two lines of W B Yeats’ poem The Second Coming spring to mind ?
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Tongue in cheek? You decide. It certainly doesn’t appear to be quite what certain right wing Christian fundamentalists are anticipating …



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Thanks to the current insanity revolving around homeopathy in this country, in both media and blogosphere, it's become necessary to insult your intelligence by explicitly drawing your attention to the obvious fact that any views or advice in this weblog/website are, unless stated otherwise, the opinions of the author alone and should not be taken as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you choose to take anything from here that might be construed as advice, you do so entirely under your own recognisance and responsibility.

smeddum.net - Blog: Confessions of a Serial Prover. Weblog on homeopathy, health and related subjects by homeopathic practitioner Wendy Howard