A female shark just had three babies in a ‘virgin birth’, so we’re guessing one of them has come to atone for sharkkind’s sins.
Leonie, the 20-something leopard shark, is a breeder for Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium in Townsville, Queensland.
According to aquarist Laura Coulton, she laid 41 eggs without a father – and three of them hatched.‘This is what is known as a virgin birth, which means that the eggs weren’t fertilised by a male,’ Coulton told the Daily Mail.
‘During a virgin birth the mother can only produce females, because she can only pass on her genetic information.
‘They’re not actually a clone because the genetics are reshuffled for the babies.’
The shark pups have been named Cleo, CC and Gemini.
It’s not totally unheard of for leopard sharks to reproduce without males – a process known as parthenogenesis – but it is extremely rare.
‘We’re not sure how often this would happen in the wild, or if it is a way to maintain a genetic line if there are no males to fertilise the eggs,’ Coulton added.
Scientists are now looking forward to observing the pups, as virgin birth babies have never been seen reproducing before.