Virgin Birth: Female Zebra Shark Spotted Altering From Sexual To Androgynous Reproduction
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Virgin Birth: Female Zebra Shark Spotted Altering From Sexual To Androgynous Reproduction

An Australian female shark has stunned scientists by reproducing babies without having any sexual intercourse with its male partner. For the first time, scientists have stumbled upon female zebra shark, changing its nature from sexual to androgynous reproduction. The female shark, after being kept apart from the male partner for three years, delivered three offspring. According to the ensuing experiments, done by a team of researchers, the shark managed to develop the reproduction ability on her own.

After staying away from male sharks for long three years, the reproduction of the female zebra shark raised lots of questions for the scientists. However, in a recently published study, the Australian scientists described the birth of three offspring from the virgin shark as a rare instance of ‘Virgin Birth’. On Tuesday, a team of Australian scientists published a new journal paper, with the detailed description about a female shark that completed a “virgin birth.” Though the captive zebra shark called ‘Leonie’ did not have any contact with the male shark in last three years, but surprisingly delivered eggs that emerged three living pups.

In the study paper, researchers mentioned, Leonie’s last delivery dates back 2012 when she had mated with a male shark at the Reef HQ aquarium in Townsville, Queensland. However, post this delivery; she was shifted into a disconnect tank at the aquarium, which lacks the presence of any male sharks. But to the surprise of scientists, the female shark, without any sexual intercourse with its male partner, gave birth to three children.

However, this is not for the first time that a zebra shark or leopard shark (scientifically known as Stegostoma fasciatum) has experienced a “virgin birth.” Some similar instances had come to the forefront earlier, but it is the first time that researchers have spotted this activity in a shark that wasn’t, even a virgin. Earlier, the occurrence of virgin birth noted in a dotted eagle ray and a Colombian rainbow boa, but among shark species, this is the first case.

Earlier, when a python went through a session of “virgin birth” at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky, scientists wondered it to be a case of stored sperm. But in the case of Leonie, this is quite shocking, as it wasn’t around any male sharks since last three years.