Healthy mice babies with two mothers and no father have been born.
Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing also managed to create baby mice — known as pups — from two male mice, though these offspring died within 48 hours.
Same-sex parents are common in nature, with the latest headline grabbers coming from Denmark, where two gay penguins decided last month to kidnap a straight couple’s chick.
However, babies born to two animals of the same sex are seemingly unheard of. Scientists achieved this feat by taking an egg from one female mouse and a special cell called a haploid embryonic stem cell from another, and combining them, according to the BBC.
Both included half the DNA needed to make a new pup, but it wasn’t quite that simple.
The researchers used gene editing to take out three sets of genetic instructions, therefore making them compatible with each other.
The newborn mice were healthy and able to go and have pups of their own.
Dr Wei Li, who ran the experiments, said: “This research shows us what’s possible.
“We saw that the defects in bimaternal mice can be eliminated and that bipaternal reproduction barriers in mammals can also be crossed,” he added.
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The research raises the possibility that queer humans may one day be able to do the same and have kids by themselves.
Dr Teresa Holm, who works in Molecular Medicine and Pathology at the University of Auckland, said it “may even lead to the development of ways for same-sex couples to reproduce healthy children of their own.
However, she did emphasise that there were “significant ethical and safety concerns that would need to be overcome.”
One of these issues is the question of whether the bimaternal mice are enjoying as good a quality of life as other mice, which is hard to prove either way, despite their ability to have children of their own.
One child of same-sex parents which has definitely enjoyed an increased quality of life is the chick which was given to elderly New Zealand lesbian penguin couple Thelma and Louise last year.
They fostered the chick after its birth mother was left by her partner, leaving her struggling to raise her child.
Also last year, two gay vultures said goodbye to their chick as it was released into the wild after they had successfully adopted and raised it.
The griffon vulture was given to the couple when it was an egg, and their care led to Artis Amsterdam Royal Zoo’s first successful hatching in five years.
The vultures, who have been together for much of their lives, adopted the egg after it was abandoned by its biological parents and took turns sitting on the egg until it hatched.