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Monday, October 13, 2008

ANOTHER SHARK 'VIRGIN BIRTH'

DNA testing confirms that a shark pup found last year inside a dead Atlantic blacktip shark at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach was conceived without the help of a male, making it the second known case of asexual reproduction -- parthenogenesis -- in sharks. The first case occurred in an Omaha aquarium in 2001. The Virginia shark, which died of complications related to the undetected pregnancy, had not been in the presence of any male of the species in eight years, and the DNA testing, reported Friday in the Journal of Fish Biology, found no genetic material from a male. Such "virgin births" probably occur in the wild but are rare, lead author Demian Chapman said.


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