A female anaconda has given birth to two baby snakes , despite being held in an exhibition containing only females.
The snake, called Anna, is held in an Amazon exhibit at the New England Aquarium, and became pregnant through an extremely rare reproductive strategy called parthenogenesis, also known as a ‘virgin birth.’
While virgin births are fairly common in plants and insects, they’re rarely seen among vertebrate species, and this case is only the second ever confirmed in green anacondas.
Earlier this year, staff at the aquarium unexpectedly discovered the newborn snakes, and found that Anna was still in the process of delivering more young.
The mechanism by which Anna was able to produce babies alone remains unclear. However, the young appear to be clones of their mother, according to the aquarium.
A statement explained: “The limited genetic sequencing done for these two young snakes shows complete matches on all the sites tested.
“These two young appear to be genetic copies or clones of the mother.”
The babies are now being cared for by aquarium staff, before they go on display alongside the mother.