Study indicates virgin shark births result in viable offspring

According to a press release at Science Daily, research published on January 25, 2009 in the Journal of Heredity shows that long-term survival of shark pups born of virgin mothers is possible. Dr. Kevin Feldheim of The Field Museum, has confirmed through genetic testing that two white-spotted bamboo sharks (Chiloscyllium plagiosum), now five years of age, were born to a virgin female shark. This is the first documented case of multiple shark births to a virgin mother, in which the offspring survived.

Feldheim’s analysis of comparisons between several sections of the genome of the shark pups and the mother shark indicated that all of the genetic material passed on to the pups was from the mother shark. Further analysis of more than a hundred additional regions of the genome, performed by Dr. Paulo Prodöhl and Séan Fitzpatrick of Queen’s University Belfast (Belfast, UK) confirmed Feldheim’s findings and also showed that the pups did not share all of their mother’s genetic material indicating that the shark pups were not “true clones” of their mother.

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