Science

Why Can’t Mules Have Babies?

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Hybrid animals are infertile because of the way their sex cells form. But sometimes, life finds a way.

FYI: We try to leave jargon out of our videos, but if you want to learn more about this topic, here are some handy keywords to get your googling started:
– Hybrid organisms: The offspring of two animals or plants of different breeds, varieties, species or genera.
– Mitosis: A process of cell division that produces copies of the original cell.
– Meiosis: A process of cell dividion that produces new daughter cells with half the chromosome number of the original cell.
– Sex cell, or gamete: a cell that fuses with another cell during fertilization (conception) in organisms that sexually reproduce.
– Hemiclonal transmission: The rare occurence in which only maternal DNA gets passed along during the creation of sex cells.

Species featured in this video:
– Mule, is the offspring of a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare)
– Liger, is a hybrid cross between a male lion (Panthera leo) and a female tiger (Panthera tigris)
– Zonkey, is the offspring of a zebra and a donkey. Zebra hybrids are generally known as zebroids
– Beefalo, also known as cattalo, is the offspring of a domestic cattle (Bos taurus) and an American buffalo (Bison bison)
– Cama, is the offspring of a male dromedary camel and a female llama.
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Credits (and Twitter handles):
Script Writer: David Goldenberg (@dgoldenberg)
Script Editor: Emily Elert (@eelert)
Video Illustrator: Chad Geran
Video Director: Emily Elert (@eelert)
Video Narrator: Emily Elert (@eelert)
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Alex Reich, Kate Yoshida, Ever Salazar, Omkar Bhagat, Peter Reich, Rachel Becker
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder: http://www.soundcloud.com/drschroeder

Image Credits: Liger Hercules – Ed Quinn
https://goo.gl/A8zgxO

Zonkey – Flickr user Leogirly4life
https://goo.gl/QAcza0

Cama – TaylorLlamas.com
http://goo.gl/YCY3Zd

Beefalo – Noah’s Ark Animal
Sanctuary
http://www.noahs-ark.org/
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If you liked this week’s video, we think you might also like these things:
The Blitzkreiglr YouTube guys play the game Hybrid Animals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9WS5cd_59I
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References:

Ryder, O., Chemnick, L., Bowling, A., Benirschke, K. (1985). Male mule foal qualifies as the offspring of a female mule and Jack donkey. Journal of Heredity 76 (379-381). Retrieved from http://jhered.oxfordjournals.org/content/76/5/379

C.J. Zhao, Y.H. Qin, X.H. Lee, Ch. Wu (2006). Molecular and cytogenetic paternity testing of a male offspring of a hinny. Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics,123: 403-405. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17177697

Bucholz (2013). Colorado miracle mule foal lived short life, but was well-loved.The Denver Post. Retrieved from http://www.denverpost.com/2013/08/16/colorado-miracle-mule-foal-lived-short-life-but-was-well-loved/

Millon, L. (2016). Personal Communication.

Antczak, D. (2016). Personal Communication.

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