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When a Mule Foals

Horse_and_mule.jpg

A mule in Colbran, CO, reportedly gave birth to a foal in April. Genetic testing has verified that the as-yet-unnamed foal is indeed the mule's offspring.

A Denver Post article explains the significance of the event (believed to be so rare that the Romans apparently had the saying "when a mule foals"):

The foal is being called a miracle because mules aren't supposed to give birth. Mules are a hybrid of two species—a female horse and a male donkey—so they end up with an odd number of chromosomes. A horse has 64 chromosomes and a donkey has 62. A mule inherits 63. An even number of chromosomes is needed to divide into pairs and reproduce.

Testing done in a previous observed case revealed that the foal, the offspring of a mule and a donkey, was itself a mule, with 63 chromosomes. The outcome of testing to determine whether this latest foal is a mule, a donkey, or a mix of the two, is pending.

Links:
"Mule's Foal Fools Genetics" (The Denver Post)
"Morocco's Miracle Birth 'Confirmed'" (BBC News)
"Male Mule Foal Qualifies as the Offspring of a Female Mule and Jack Donkey" (Journal of Heredity, purchase required)

Photo: Horse and Mule by eliotphillips.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 1, 2007 10:31 AM.

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