A female shark gave birth to a pup at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois this year – despite the baby having no father. The female epaulette shark was never housed with a male shark but produced a fertile egg without the need for a male, the zoo said in a news release.
The baby was born in August to the 3-year-old mother, even though epaulette sharks usually reach sexual maturity at age 7. The process of developing an embryois called parthenogenesis.
Parthenogenesis, which means “virgin creation” in Greek, occurs mainly in some jawed vertebrates, but is unnatural for mammals, according to the National Institutes of Health. It may occur in whiptail lizards, komodo dragons, bonnethead sharks and other animals, according to Science.org.