Sharks Are Having Babies Without Having Sex
These sharks are saying "no thank you" to baby daddy drama - by skipping out on the daddy part entirely.
For the first time in history, scientists have witnessed a miraculous virgin birth two generations in a row by a captive whitespotted bamboo shark, according to new findings by the Journal of Fish Biology. While virgin births have been seen in other animals before, what makes this shark's ability to reproduce all on her own so incredible is the fact that she was the result of a virgin birth as well. And, to top things off, one of this miracle shark's offspring also went on to reproduce asexually.
Previously, the general consensus among scientists held that invertebrates (animals without backbones) were the primary champions of asexual reproduction, also known as parthenogenesis, or, in layman's terms, having babies without the act of, well, baby-making. Now, it seems this alternative method to producing offspring is en vogue with other vertebrate animals as well, with Komodo dragons, water snakes and, now, these sharks all going 100 percent sperm-free. In the case of the sharks, the study marks the first time scientists have seen two generations of a species - mother, followed by her child - give birth without sex.
So, what do all of these virgin births actually mean? Well, animals conceived in this seemingly miraculous manner are, in fact, capable of reproducing normally. They are not an evolutionary dead end, Nicolas Straube, of the Bavarian State Collection for Zoology in Munich, told the New Scientist. This study brings asexual reproduction in animals to the forefront as an valid alternative to having sex.
In short, just because animals have a virgin birth doesn't mean their offspring will be born infertile - their offspring are just as capable as reproducing with or without a mate, continuing an animal's genetic lineage for generations to come.
Check out The Dodo for more amazing animal birth stories, such as the world's smallest cow giving birth to an even tinier cow.