So, you are thinking what is so unique about this simple looking anteater and her baby? Read more and know why this anteater has sparked a scientific debate.
It all started at LEO Zoological Conservation Center in Greenwich when Armani had given birth to Alice together with her mate Alf (male anteater) in August. Alf and Armani were then separated by the zoo’s staff for several months as the male anteaters are known to kill and devour their offspring.
The separation is a normal thing done, but here is the twist in this tale! Armani then delivered birth to a second cute baby named Archie in April. Her birth left all the scientists and the zoo’s staff scratching their heads since she wasn’t supposed to be born. The question was how she became pregnant without conceiving?
This mysterious pregnancy has triggered debates of virgin birth, which is scientifically known as parthenogenesis (a term that refers to conceiving without a father). In this process, the embryo tends to grow and develop without the presence of fertilization. Such kind of reproduction is an unusual occurrence in the animal kingdom and this kind of behavior was never observed in an anteater as well. Parthenogenesis in animals is seen in invertebrates like bees, parasitic wasps, and water fleas.
Researchers believe that this is likely the outcome of a process called embryonic diapause. This is the process where the mother puts a fertilized egg in her uterus that remains dormant for a period of time.
Some mammals can undergo this embryonic diapause to avoid unfavorable or environmental conditions. Such mammals have the ability to time and schedule the births of their offspring. The conditions may include: mild weather, availability of food, previous offspring weaned. This all happens when animals want to ensure that their offspring survives in this world before giving birth.
This phenomenon is a complete manifestation of a mother’s love towards her children and displays how beautifully her love can have significant control over our lives; no matter it is before or after our births! Simply speechless!