Nature & Environment
'Virgin birth' bamboo shark lays two eggs
By T.K. Randall
February 9, 2016 · 5 comments
Asexual reproduction in sharks has only recently been recorded. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Citron
A female shark at a UK sea life center has laid two eggs despite having had no contact with a male.
The white-spotted bamboo shark, which arrived at the Great Yarmouth Sea Life Center in 2013, is understood to have been the only member of her species at the facility since that time.
The news comes just days after the announcement that a shark in Germany, that was itself a virgin birth, has gone on to give birth to offspring of its own at a research facility in Munich.
"The process is called parthenogenesis, and has long been known to occur in domestic chickens and some reptiles, but was not recorded in sharks until 2008," said shark expert Darren Gook.
"Females somehow manage to add an extra set of chromosomes to their eggs to produce offspring that are either clones or half-clones of themselves."
It isn't clear exactly why this happens however one possibility is that it is something that arises to help ensure the survival of a species when dwindling numbers make it less likely that a male and female shark will encounter each other in the wild.
"It has been recorded in bonnethead, blacktip and zebra sharks, as well as white-spotted bamboos," said Gook. "It was assumed offspring born this way were infertile and it was an evolutionary dead end, but events in Germany have now disproved that."
Source: The Guardian
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