Advertisement

Shark's pup called 'virgin birth'

1/2
Shark's pup called 'virgin birth'
A Great White is observed during behavioral research studies being conducted on Great White Sharks off of Isla Guadalupe, Mexico on September 15, 2008. Club Cantamar, primarily a tour operator has branched into conducting coordinated research with Isla Guadalupe Conservation to protect the species of sharks while offering tourists to Mexico the ability to also observe the sharks as they migrate through the area. The Conservation agency reports its findings to the Mexican Government which maintains authority on granting this activity. (UPI Photo/Joe Marino) | License Photo

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., Oct. 10 (UPI) -- A female shark in a Virginia aquarium without any male companionship of her kind is responsible for a "virgin birth," a scientific journal reported Friday.

Tidbit -- an Atlantic blacktip shark at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center -- was found through DNA testing to have carried a pup that contained no genetic material from a male, the Journal of Fish Biology said.

Advertisement

The testing was conducted after Tidbit died in May 2007.The pup died in utero along with its mother.

Tidbit's pregnancy is the second documented case of a virgin birth, or "parthenogenesis," wrote Demian Chapman, a shark scientist with the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Chapman documented the first virgin shark birth in a hammerhead at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb., in May.

"I'm sure this happens in the wild, but haven't been able to prove it yet," Chapman told the Los Angeles Times.

Some scientists have suggested virgin births may be a last-ditch way for severely depleted shark populations to reproduce if their numbers fall so low that males cannot find females, the Times said.

Advertisement

Chapman is writing a book on sharks' often brutal and sometimes deadly sex acts.

"It's taken us a long time to figure out that a female doesn't need a male," Chapman told the Times. "You couldn't blame them for reproducing asexually because the sex is often quite violent."

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement