Ancient female fairy shrimp may have gotten along just fine without males. Researchers studying Cretaceous-period freshwater fossils in the Koonwarra fossil bed in southern Australia have described a new species of now-extinct freshwater shrimp (Koonwarrella peterorum) whose females likely reproduced without sex — a phenomenon known as parthenogenesis, which is a type of asexual reproduction.

Parthenogenesis is the spontaneous development of an embryo from an unfertilized egg. It’s known to occur in both plants and animals, although it is thought to be extremely rare. Some species, such as whiptail lizards, reproduce exclusively through parthenogenesis, but some sexually reproducing species have been known to reproduce parthenogenetically, as in the case of two fatherless California condors reported in the Journal of Heredity in 2021. 


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