A female white-spotted bamboo shark at the Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre is set to perform a rare feat, as it prepares to usher into the world a pair of babies despite not having a male around in more than two years.
The Guardian reports that the shark has produced two fertile eggs, which have been moved to a special nursery tank visible to aquarium visitors and under close watch by marine life specialists.
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The expectant mom demonstrated a form of asexual reproduction called parthenogenesis, which is seen in some invertebrate animals such as water fleas and scorpions, as well as in vertebrates such as some reptiles and domestic chickens.
In sharks, it is a fairly recently observed phenomena. Parthenogenesis, a shark expert told The Guardian, "has been recorded in bonnethead, blacktip and zebra sharks, as well as white-spotted bamboos. It was assumed offspring born this way were infertile and it was an evolutionary dead end, but events in Germany have now disproved that."
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The German event the expert notes refers to a second-generation shark virgin birth documented in Munich in January.
For the U.K. aquarium staff, it's now a game of watch and wait. Officials expect the eggs to hatch within the coming nine months.
via The Guardian