Never Mind the Bollocks, Here Come the Sexless Pistils

I could live a hundred years and never have a chance to write a title like that. Flora, a Komodo dragon at the Chester Zoo in England who produced viable eggs without a mate, is now a virgin mother. Five of Flora's eggs have hatched into little Komodo dragons. This new trick with parthenogenesis might also explain how Godzilla, Mothra, and the rest have managed to keep things going on Monster Island for so long. Or for that matter, Wonder Woman and the Amazons on Themyscria.


I knew about fish and amphibians, and apparently there are other higher-order species that can perform the same trick given the right conditions. These idle thoughts will not descend into dark thoughts about the superfluity of the male; I'm already a genetic dead end and have long been aware of how close the genders are in the human animal. One little blib in an X or Y chromosome and your income gets cut by 76%.

But how often do we get a chance to contemplate the Komodo's talent for survival: from biting Sharon Stone's ex-husband, to having saliva so infested with bacteria (due to their taste for carrion) that it might well be considered a venom? (I felt sorry for the guy, and would have gladly bought him a drink: we are of an age, and what reporter raised on Johnny Quest would pass up his chance to pose with a Komodo?)

An otherwise excellent film The Freshman was almost spoiled by its use of a skinny-headed monitor lizard in place of the much more dangerous Komodo. This like going to Hooters instead of a strip club. You guys couldn't afford an animatronic puppet for the close-ups? A stunt Komodo? I tell myself that they started with a real Komodo, but the Bruno Kirby character pawned it somewhere and figured no one would notice the substitution.

Quite a few scientists believe that the Komodos have had to live through long periods without fresh food on an island covered with ash because of volcanic eruptions on neighboring islands. Being able to eat whatever washes up on shore would be a useful skill to have. Which leads to one of the sidebar questions I've been meaning to pass on to Kim, our family microbiologist: with so much concern about drug-resistant strains of bacteria, and overuse of antibiotics, why isn't there a national effort to discover and harness more friendly little phages as an alternative to antibiotics? And is anyone trying to figure out why buzzards and Komodos don't get sick from the stuff they eat? Those bastards must have bacteriophages in their gut that would make Galactus and Takeru "The Tsunami" Kobayashi stand in awe.

It is a religious conviction with me that the Book of Nature has many cures for our common ills if we would learn enough humility to seek our answers there. Bats and dolphins understood sonar before we did, Wasps and bees can detect explosives, Gambian rats will look for land mines for the price of a peanut butter and cheese cracker, a spider web is still mightier than our strongest cable-- why not a cure for disease in the Nightmare Alley gut of a vulture or a dragon? This is why it is such a sin that the Amazon rain forest and our own Michigan forests were clear-cut without a thought for what might be there. The cure for cancer may have already been destroyed as carelessly as a Roman soldier cut down Archimedes.

4 comments:

Shannon M said...

OK, that's the best title ever.

Who knew lizard-brain inspired passions could also apply to desire for ones lizardly self?

Mothra doesn't mate solely by parthenogenesis though; she's got something fairly complex going with those little twins. Might be the harmonics of their song trembles her little pistil in just the right way.

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

Aunt Dorothy always says, "Oh, I just love those little Mothra twins."

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Never mind the Mothra twins. What about those little Japanese women with the sing song voices? Now, if only THEY could multiply...

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

Dear God, you don't mean Pink Lady and Jeff???