… here come the whiptails!
Actually, whiptail lizards have been around for quite a while. And scientists have for some time been aware of—and fascinated by--the unique gender qualities of these lizards, a species that is not sexual but unisexual. Who wouldn't be intrigued by lizards that are, essentially, all female—but which can still produce offspring with genetic variations (i.e. that are NOT clones)?
But it turns out the uniqueness of these winsome creatures points to an even more interesting theory concerning the evolution of a species. According to an article in Discover magazine, this particular species of lizard came up for study during research on how hybridization leads to different outcomes in their evolution. In evolutionary terms, hybridization sometimes produce genetic differences, and in other cases, it leads to entirely different species.
In this study of whiptails, the research seems to indicate that "genetic distance between parental genomes can predict hybrid outcomes and the likelihood of forming a new species due to hybridization." Specifically, it suggests that the divergence period between species needed for hybridization to result in unisexual lizards had to exceed at least ten million years. The study thus seems to conclude that, well, some things about sex are predictable, at least in whiptail lizards. It just takes a long time....
OK, who had "evolutionary outcomes" on their bingo card?