A group of Chinese researchers has shown that even mammals as well as some types of insects and fish can do without the other sex to generate offspring: in particular, they have proven that two mice-mice can give birth to healthy puppies, which they can be reproduced in turn.
A discovery that upsets the scientific field itself and which, as expected, has already raised important ethical questions.
Mammals are distinguished from other species first of all by the way they conceive their offspring: a male cell - the spermatozoon - and a female cell - the ovule - are needed, which will give life to a new cell, the zygote.
In other animal species the development of the zygote cell takes place without a proper fertilization and it is this type of reproduction that scientists wanted to deepen to understand if it could be implemented in mammals.
The answer is positive: even mammals - in particular laboratory mice - can reproduce starting from the presence of material of a single sex. The experiment was conducted between pairs of male mice and pairs of female mice, but only in the latter case did the research lead to a successful outcome.
The questions that are raised now all concern the possibility of transferring this process to human beings: will the day come when babies born from the genetic material of two mothers will be born? The Chinese researchers point out that at the moment we are still a long way from hypothesizing something similar, but do not even think it's impossible.
The aim of the research, however, was not directly to create offspring from two individuals of the same sex; through the experiments conducted and the result achieved it was possible to deepen the mechanisms of reproduction of mammals and understand what can be done and what not. We now know that mammals can also reproduce without the male sex - at least for the moment.
There is much more to be discovered: the mice born from the two mothers were found to be healthy even in adulthood and able to reproduce, but other experts questioned whether such a process could always lead to perfectly healthy individuals.