Over the past three years I've told you about virgin female sharks that have been giving birth to seemingly healthy pups. This was documented in 2007 and then again in 2008.
(A bonnethead shark, born in a virgin birth, is shown swimming. Analysis of the shark confirmed it had no father.
Research also confirmed it carried only half the genes of its mother. Image credit: Lee G. Simmons)
Now a new study, published in the Journal of Heredity, concludes that sharks born to virgin mothers can survive over the long-term. Two daughters of a white-spotted bamboo shark virgin, for example, are now over five years old.
Scientists are still puzzled by this phenomenon, so Kevin Feldheim, manager of the Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Evolution at the Field Museum, also studied the shark sisters' genetic material to ensure that daddy wasn't just absent from their records, but that he never existed in the first place.
"Examination of highly variable sections of the genome prove that these young sharks had no father," Feldheim said. "These findings are remarkable because they tell us that some female sharks can produce litters of offspring without ever having mated with a male."