The shark that was born in a pond without males

Once again, nature surprises science. It happened at the Cala Gonone aquarium in Sardinia, Italy. It’s kind of a miracle. They have a pool of hound sharks there, all females. So how could a pup be born? The shark that was born in a pond with no males raises a lot of questions.

The shark that was born in a pond with no males, a hound shark.
The shark that was born in a pond without males, a hound shark.
Unprecedented case in the species

It could be the first case of asexual reproduction in the species. In such cases a baby is born from a single parent, without fertilization. The offspring is a clone of the mother, as they are genetically identical. This is the tank of the Acquario Cala Gonone in Sardinia, Italy. 10 years ago there is not a single male present.

The hatchling has been named ‘Ispera’ by the aquarium staff. DNA will tell if it is identical to one of the females. It would be the first case of asexual reproduction between them.

It is likely that the offspring is the result of parthenogenesis. The genetic material from a particular cell of the mother fertilizes the egg. There would be no other explanation. There are factors that favor asexual reproduction. For example, when females little chance of finding a male with whom to reproduce.

In that pond there have been no males for ten years.
In that pond there have been no males for ten years.

Parthenogenesis is a process that essentially forms ‘clones’ of the mother... The embryo receives genetic material from a single individual. An immature egg behaves almost like a sperm to fertilize another egg. Usually, parthenogenesis occurs in lower plants and invertebrate animals. It happens in ants, wasps or bees.

Another episode in sharks

It has also been observed in some species such as reptiles, fish and even birds. A precedent was recorded in 2017. A captive female zebra shark named Leonie laid eggs that hatched into three viable pups. She was not near a male for three years prior to the ‘virgin birth’. What made it unusual was that this was not the first time Leonie had given birth. Previously it had only been seen in ‘virgin sharks’.

The shark that was born in a pond without males would prove that another species of sharks could do it. And it would be a major scientific breakthrough.

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