Q:

Which animals reproduce asexually?

A:

Although sexual reproduction is a more common method of reproduction among animals, a few species, such as starfish and sea anemones, produce offspring via asexual reproduction. Asexual reproduction, in contrast to sexual reproduction, does not require the mating of two parents to produce an offspring. This means that there is no fusion of gametes and, in turn, no exchange of genetic information from parents to the offspring.

Since asexual reproduction does not involve the exchange of genetic information, the offspring produced from this method of reproduction are essentially clones of their parents. Offspring, in addition to being genetically identical to their parents, are identical to one another as well. Asexual reproduction is more commonly found in plants, and may take place in several ways. Most plants that perform asexual reproduction have within their bodies male and female organelles. Similarly, a few animal species have this characteristic too. In starfish, reproduction takes place primarily through fission, which involves the division of the central disc into two equal halves. After dividing, the two halves have the unique ability to regenerate all the requisite missing parts to form a new and complete starfish. Less commonly, starfish reproduce via autonomy, which involves the shedding of their arms. The arms eventually develop new discs; eventually, the seven remaining arms grow to form a new starfish.


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