If you’re a female hammerhead shark that is. Zookeepers and experts were shocked when they found out that a female bonnethead from the family of hammerheads gave birth to a baby shark without having previously mated. This was the first time that any shark – or any fish for the matter — has been seen with the ability to propagate itself via asexual reproduction or parthenogenesis.
This phenomenon has been previously documented on a few species of lizards that reproduce exclusively through asexual means. Even the Komodo Dragon – the world’s largest lizards — has shown signs of the ability to give rise to smaller facsimiles of itself during times when sexual contact with another dragon is not possible. Asexual reproduction has never been seen in mammals, but it has already been done in laboratory mice.
How did they find out that the pup shark was conceived through asexual means? Well, researchers at the Queen’s University Belfast and the United States concluded that there were no traces of the paternal DNA found in the baby shark. Three females were kept in the tank in Henry Doorly Zoo (Omaha, Nebraska) where in the virgin mom gave birth. They were actually too young to be sexually mature. Though it might be cool to have sharks giving birth without the aid of their partners, it might spell major difficulties down the road as the genetic pool further shrinks due to the lack of variation.
And oh, are you wondering what happened to the cute and cuddly baby shark? It was killed by one of the other sharks in the tank. Tee hee.