Scientists have confirmed that a virgin hammerhead shark gave birth to a pup in 2001.
Three sexually immature, female hammerhead sharks were captured and put in an aquarium at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. Three years later, on December 14, 2001, one of the virgin sharks gave birth to a pup.
Recently, teams of scientists from Belfast, Nebraska, and Florida concluded DNA tests that failed to detect paternal DNA. These genetic tests proved the unbelievable, but obvious: the baby shark had no daddy.
Unfortunately, the baby shark was soon killed by a stingray before it could be removed from the tank.
The lead Belfast scientist, Dr Paulo Prodöhl, had this to say about the shark’s virgin birth:
The findings were really surprising because as far as anyone knew, all sharks reproduced only sexually by a male and female mating, requiring the embryo to get DNA from both parents for full development, just like in mammals.
The discovery that sharks can reproduce asexually by parthenogenesis now changes this paradigm, leaving mammals as the only major vertebrate (backboned creatures) group where this form of reproduction has not been seen.
That we know of ;-)
Parthenogenesis, the process of giving birth without male fertilization, has been observed mostly in lower plants, invertebrates (bees, aphids, ants…), and a few reptiles. Recently Komodo Dragons — and sharks — have been added to the list of species capable of parthenogenesis.
Read more Amazing, Orgasmic, and Fantastic Facts: Amasnic Fact Off Archive.
[tags]shark, virgin birth, bonnethead, hammerhead, parthenogenesis[/tags]