Friday, October 10, 2008

Immaculate Conception

Scientists have verified a second case of asexual reproduction in sharks.

DNA testing proves that a blacktip shark pup embryo contains no genetic material from a male of the species.

The medical mystery began 16 months ago after the death of Tidbit, a blacktip shark that had lived for eight years at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach. No male blacktip sharks were present during her eight years.

In May 2007, the 5-foot, 94-pound shark died after it was given a sedative before undergoing a yearly checkup. The 10-inch shark pup was found during a necropsy, surprising aquarium officials. They initially thought the embryonic pup was either the product of a virgin birth or a cross between the blacktip and a male of another shark species -- which has never been documented, Chapman said.

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