Mules result from a cross between a horse (2 n = 64) and a donkey (2 n = 62), have 63 chromosomes, and are almost always sterile. However, in the summer of 1985, a female mule named Krause who was pastured with a male donkey gave birth to a male foal . Blood tests established that the foal, appropriately named Blue Moon, was the offspring of Krause and that Krause was indeed a mule. Both Blue Moon and Krause were fathered by the same donkey (see the accompanying pedigree). The foal, like his mother, had 63 chromosomes—half of them horse chromosomes and the other half donkey chromosomes. Analyses of genetic markers showed that, remarkably, Blue Moon seemed to have inherited a complete set of horse chromosomes from his mother, instead of the random mixture of horse and donkey chromosomes that would be expected with normal meiosis. Thus, Blue Moon and Krause were not only mother and son, but also brother and sister.

Q. Can you suggest a possible mechanism for how fertile female mules might pass on a complete set of horse chromosomes to their offspring?

O Horse
2n = 62
2n = 64
Mule "Krause"
2n = 63, XX
Mule "Blue Moon"
2n = 63, XY
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Transcribed Image Text

O Horse Donkey 2n = 62 2n = 64 Mule "Krause" 2n = 63, XX %3D II Mule "Blue Moon" 2n = 63, XY