Virgin Shark Birth

Jennifer Viegas over at Born Animal has a story about virgin animal births (called Parthenogensis) and a video of sharks mating! There was a report recently of a blacktip reef shark female giving birth with divine intervention. Millions of Elasmobranchs flocked to the site and showered the new mom with gifts of frankincense, myrrh and offerings of their first-borns.

"The female can go about her usual business for years on end and one morning she just wakes up and finds herself pregnant"

This is common in some organisms such as rotifers (they only produce tiny, useless males in the absolute worst case scenario). In other animals the male is just reduced to some pointless sperm-providing sucker that can’t even feed for itself or live without being supported entirely by the female. Deep sea Angler-Fish and Bone-Devouring Zombie Worms (Osedax) are strange examples of species that have parasitic males. -KZ

Kevin Zelnio (870 Posts)


7 Replies to “Virgin Shark Birth”

  1. There was also an example recently of a hammerhead shark that had been in an aquarium for years suddenly producing offspring – without the benefit of a male in the tank.

    I don’t know if male anglerfishes could really be described as “some pointless sperm-providing sucker that can’t even feed for itself or live without being supported entirely by the female” – they have to activly swim around looking for that one female in an estimated 800,000m3 of dark ocean, then avoid becoming lunch.

  2. I put that in my D&D game, as well…

    I devised a type of coral that, when approached by a sea hag, would cause the sea hag to give parthenogenetic birth to a reef hag. The reef hag, over her life, developed horns that resembled branching coral. When she died, the coral horns dropped to the ocean floor to establish a reef. Thus the cycle began anew.

    I have too much fun, for people. ;)

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