A female epaulette shark at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo gave birth without any contact with a male, a rare occurrence known as parthenogenesis.
The pup, born in August, is a result of asexual reproduction, which is uncommon in complex vertebrates like sharks.
The zoo staff has been caring for the 2-month-old pup, which is now 5 to 6 inches long and can be seen by visitors at the Living Coast’s entrance. (Trending: Federal Court Rules Against Gun Owners)
Surprise from the Living Coast: a shark has hatched!#DYK shark embryos can develop without male fertilization due to parthenogenesis? We are believed to be one of only two facilities that have had success in hatching epaulette shark pups produced by asexual reproduction! pic.twitter.com/NsGea8jTzI
— Brookfield Zoo (@brookfield_zoo) November 8, 2023
“On August 23, an epaulette shark pup hatched at Brookfield Zoo,” the release stated. “The hatching wasn’t unusual, but what is, is the way the shark embryo developed.”
“Under these circumstances, animal care staff believe the female produced a fertile egg without needing to be fertilized by a male’s genetic material.”
“This reproductive process known as parthenogenesis is when an embryo develops from an unfertilized egg cell,” the release added. “Parthenogenesis is a natural occurrence in some invertebrates, but less so in complex vertebrates, including sharks.”
“It is believed this is the second Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ accredited facility to report a potential epaulette shark pup produced by an asexual reproduction. The first was at New England Aquarium, where Brookfield Zoo’s adult females originated.”
“We are happy to report that our epaulette pup has been eating well on her diet of finely chopped capelin, minced squid tentacles, and other finely chopped seafood,” Mike Masellis, a care specialist at Brookfield Zoo, stated.
This epaulette shark may look normal, but it’s actually really rare: it came via an asexual birth! pic.twitter.com/SCSEVGgBGK
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) November 2, 2023
“Our colleagues at New England Aquarium have been a great resource as shark pups produced parthenogenetically can be very delicate,” he added.
“We are looking forward to guests being able to see the pup.”
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