Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sharks prove, yet again, that they will out live us all.

It took me 8min to find a photo of a shark pup where it actually looked "cute". However, I am fearful for this man's forearm.

The second virgin shark pregnancy has just been reported in the Journal of Fish Biology that arrives in my mailbox every month and costs me over $3000 a month (who knew?). The Selachimorpha-studying community is again in awe of nature's ability to "find a way". A black tip reef shark named Tidbit fertilized her own egg in 2007 while living in a male black tip reef shark free aquarium. I know what you're thinking - cross-species fertilization? Um, no, you're totally wrong.

Henry Wu: You're implying that a group composed entirely of female animals will... breed?
Dr. Ian Malcolm: No, I'm simply saying that life, uh... finds a way.

And so it has. The first confirmed virgin shark birth occurred in a Nebraska zoo in 2001 and the miracle pup was alive only hours before a stingray ate it. Oops. Unfortunately, the zoo staff did not know the hammerhead mama was preggers since the lack of male sharks in the tank gave them no reason to plan for a little bundle of teeth and sandpaper skin. So like some other unexpected expectant mothers, the black tip reef shark reported on in this month's Journal O' Fish did not receive proper prenatal care and unfortunately passed away after complications with the unknown pregnancy. It's not a species specific thing apparently - ladies still have major problems getting the reproductive health support they need.

Check out the full story here.