For the first time in captivity, a female zebra shark gave birth to three live pups without fertilization from a male partner. Look out, boys: Evolution is rendering you obsolete! Read on below to find out more…
Leonie the Zebra Shark. Leonie the zebra shark catches headlines across the world for being the first in her species to reproduce asexually. She had previously been with a mate and had multiple births with her mate, Leo in years past, but has been isolated from him in her own tank since 2012.
Aquarium Life. Marine biologists initially thought the pups may have been born from dormant sperm she may have been storing. They ran tests to explore their theory.
The Zebra Shark Pups. In April 2016, Leonie laid eggs which ultimately hatched three live pups. Biologists proceeded to do DNA testing on the pups to determine the father.
No Really, Who’s Your Daddy? After extensive DNA testing, biologists concluded the pups were born of asexual reproduction. DNA fingerprinting showed the pups only carried genes from the mother and no male cells were present at all.
Reef HQ Aquarium. The shark pups were born in captivity at the Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville, Australia, furthering the concrete evidence that they had no father.
Lonely. I guess Leonie got tired of waiting for Leo to return to her side of the aquarium. A tale as old as time.
Move Along Boys. According to biologists at the aquarium, “Parthenogenesis occurs when embryos develop and mature without fertilization by a male’s sperm.” Men. Who needs them?
Asexual Sharks. The phenomenon makes Leonie a rare gem because she’s the only known case of a species having previously bred and had pups sexually, only to switch when the presence of a mate is removed. It shows adaptability and survival evolution.
Biology Class. If you think way back (some further than others), you may remember learning about asexual reproduction during high school biology class. It is usually reserved for certain plant species, but a small number of cases are emerging of animal species making the switch.
Don’t Keep Her Waiting. I guess this should be a lesson to never keep a woman waiting too long. You may end up paying child support for an immaculate conception!
A Growing Exclusive Club. The exclusivity of the group of animals who have been documented as reproducing without a mate is a very small list indeed. It includes Leonie, along with a boa constrictor and an eagle ray (separate occurrences years apart).
Abstinence Isn’t What It Used to Be. According to marine biologists, they are now questioning whether this happens in the wild and had just previously gone unnoticed. “Leonie adapted to her circumstances, and we believe she switched because she lost her mate.”
Don’t Mess With an Impatient Woman. The pups who were born, possess only their mother’s DNA. Scientists will continue to monitor them to see if they will reproduce asexually like their mother when they mature.
Endangered Species. According to the aquarium, the zebra shark species are currently on the endangered species list, so an asexual reproduction adaptation could also be a species survival evolution.
Watch That Biological Clock. Either way, Leonie has proved that the biological clock is a very real thing. Man or no man, that clock is ticking!
Source: Rebel Circus