A Virgin Birth…in Another Species

The Cala Gonone Aquarium in Sardinia, Italy is reporting a female smoothhound shark has given birth despite having been in a tank with only another female for the past decade. As reported by Newsweek (https://www.newsweek.com/baby-shark-born-all-female-tank-could-scientific-first-1622272), this may be a scientific first for this species.

Not that this phenomenon is completely unknown. It even has a name — parthenogenesis, which comes from the Greek words parthenos, meaning ‘virgin,’ and genesis, meaning ‘origin. Basically, it’s the result of a female’s ability to self-fertilize her own eggs. It’s not as rare as you think — experts believe more than 2,000 species reproduce in this way. The excitement in this instance is because this is an apparent first for this species, although it has been observed in more than 80 vertebrates, including other sharks, fish and reptiles.

This is just another example of the wonders of nature.

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