Thursday, 4 November 2010

Maculate Conception

From New Scientist :
This boa constrictor has no father.

She was born in 2009 by parthenogenesis, otherwise known as "virgin birth". This makes her one of the first parthenogenetic vertebrate animals who have made it to adulthood.

The mother snake responsible had two litters, one in 2009 and another in 2010, producing a total of 22 offspring. All were female, and all had the same rare "caramel" body colour. Genetic analysis has confirmed that they are not related to any of the males the female had mated with.

In another first, the young snakes have two W chromosomes. Snakes determine their sex differently to humans: males have two Z chromosomes and females have a Z and a W. So in theory, the mother snake's parthenogenetic offspring should have been either ZZ or WW. But WW animals have never been found, and have only been produced in the lab with great difficulty.
Long thought to be vanishingly rare, parthenogenesis is becoming more common the more scientists look for it. For instance, in 2003 a Burmese python in an Amsterdam zoo produced embryos parthenogenetically, but they were not allowed to develop so we do not know if they were truly viable.

It's not just snakes, either. Earlier this year it was shown that female white-spotted bamboo sharks can produce viable offspring without help from males, and hammerheads can do it too.
I'm not sure the concept of "sin" applies to snakes, so I won't call the mother's conception "Immaculate".

But yes, a virgin birth. A number of them. The more we look, the more we find, and the more complex and exception-prone the whole business of sex appears to be in the animal kingdom.

Trans and Intersexed people are persecuted by many "christians" (scare quotes most definitely intended, as these people aren't real Christians' bootlaces), on the basis of Genesis 1:27:

 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27, King James Version)
Of course in the same section, there's also the part about a Firmament, a beaten metal dome, which keeps the "waters above" out over the Flat Earth. With lights set in it - lots of little ones, and two big ones, one that comes out in the day, the other at night.

That bit, most "christians" miss out. They pick and choose which bits of Biblical "Science" to believe.

But it's vital that there be a factual, natural, immutable and universal division between the sexes. Because if there wasn't such a division... then how could they justify the persecution of homosexuality with such venom and vigour, compared to say, fornication? It's not enough to appeal to Scripture: they must appeal to Natural Law.

Trans and Intersexed people - and hermaphroditic animals, and virgin births not sanctioned by the Church - they're all embarrassments. "christians" must pretend they don't exist, and do their best in many small ways to see they don't.

No wonder they have such a downer on serpents in Genesis 3. Ignorant Superstition, and the persecution it so often engenders, is poisoned by the fruits of knowledge.

Oh yes, maculate? It means "Marked with spots" - as is the Boa Constrictor pictured above.


Anonymous said...

...male and female created he them...

Sounds like a perfect description of intersex to me.

Bitterness Barbie said...

Dr David Bonthron described a boy who was partially parthenogenic -- cells from his blood and other tissues contained none of his father's chromosomes; instead, they featured a duplicated set of one half of his mother's.

Dr Bonthron believes the boy owed his unusual genetic constitution to an egg that spontaneously divided into two cells, one of which was fertilized. The second cell then copied its maternal chromosomes, allowing the resulting chimera to form a viable embryo.

While this is an unusual case, I believe Human Chimeras are quite common; so common they cannot be classified as an anomaly.

So by virtue of that, just much a part of "gods plan" as anything else.

wreckage said...

I think you're misunderstanding Genesis pretty badly based on Medieval European conceptions, but you have a pretty valid point: "Male and female" here is meant to encompass both sexes as human and to emphasise that God is (considers Himself, if you prefer) the author of what we understand as "humanity".

Personally I think this is all a throwback to Cartesian Dualism or the division by some mystics of the universe into "male" and "female" principles; an idea that was entwined with the philosophical inquiries that presaged modern science.