On Valentine’s Day 2012, a baby chimpanzee was born at Chimp Haven, a chimpanzee sanctuary outside of Shreveport, Louisiana. The birth was unexpected because all of the male chimps at the sanctuary had been given vasectomies. In fact, the baby’s father had undergone two. Chimpanzees have been found to have an extremely high rate of spontaneous vasectomy reversal.
Survival of the species depends on reproduction. While this chimp adaptation is perhaps unusual, nature has come up with many “strange” ways to guarantee that organisms pass on their genes from generation to generation – even if the conditions for reproduction are less than ideal by human standards.
Asexual Reproduction: offspring come from a single parent and inherit the genetic characteristics of only that parent
Sexual Reproduction: offspring are created by combining the genetic material of two organisms
Hermaphrodite: organisms with the reproductive organs of both the male and female sexes
Cloning: a cell divides creating two identical cells
Genetic Diversity: the number of genetic variations within a species
1. Read and discuss the news story from Chimp Haven. What was unusual about the baby chimp’s birth?
2. Pass out Extreme Reproduction Readings. Students will read about reproductive strategies of several unusual organisms and then answer the questions in the reading guide.
3. As a class, discuss the advantages and disadvantages that these reproductive strategies have for their species.
3. Students will choose the organism that they find most interesting and research more information about its physical characteristics and behaviors. Directions can be found on the Extreme Reproduction Organism Research Guide WS.
4. Students will use the Extreme Reproductive Readings and their research to write a Birth Announcement for their species. The announcement must include at least 10 facts about the organism. Information in the announcement could include:
- The appearance of the offspring
- Information about the offspring’s future growth and development
- Information about the parents
- The location of the birth
- Possible gifts for the baby or family
An example is provided on the Extreme Reproduction Organism Research Guide