Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Officials at an Italian aquarium said a baby smooth-hound shark was born in a tank in which only females are kept in what might be the first documented case of asexual reproduction for the species.
The Acquario Cala Gonone in Sardinia said the baby, dubbed Isperia, was born in a tank in which only two female smooth-hound sharks have lived for the past decade.
The aquarium said officials suspect the shark was born via a process known as parthenogenesis, which involves a polar cell, which contains a duplicate of an egg's DNA, fertilizing the egg in the absence of sperm.
Marine biologists at the aquarium said they have sent samples for testing to confirm whether Isperia is a genetic clone of her mother.
Parthenogenesis has previously been observed in three species of shark: the bonnethead, the blacktip shark and the zebra shark.
The aquarium said the results of the DNA test could determine whether smooth-hound sharks become the fourth species to make the list.