Virgin birth when lone female shark gave birth

09 November, 2023

A baby shark without a father has seen the light of day at a zoo outside Chicago in the United States. The mother, of the epaulette shark species, has lived in the aquarium since 2019 and never with a male, reports NPR.

In early 2022, the female shark began laying between two and four unfertilized eggs each month. But one was fertilized and after five months it hatched this summer.

Since then, the baby shark has been closely monitored. She has grown big and strong on a diet of finely chopped capelin and minced squid tentacles and will soon be ready to meet visitors, the zoo announced.

So-called parthenogenesis – when an embryo is formed from an unfertilized egg cell – is known among insects and reptiles and has also been observed in birds and fish. In sharks, however, it has only recently been discovered.

According to the Brookfield Zoo where the baby shark was hatched, it is the second known case of virgin birth in an epaulette shark in captivity. The first was discovered at the zoo in Boston where they got their female epaulette sharks from.

The epaulette shark lives naturally in shallow water near coral reefs. It can swim but moves mostly by “walking” on the bottom with its fins and can also walk on land.

Text: TT
Photo: Eugene Hoshiko/AP/TT Stock image

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