Virgin Birth in Nature

12 October 08 | Posted in Animals

Could the birth of Jesus been the result of a (divine) case of parthenogenesis? Was it a miracle with a basis in nature?

Scientists have confirmed the second case of a “virgin birth” in a shark. In a study reported in the Journal of Fish Biology scientists said DNA testing proved that a pup carried by a female Atlantic blacktip shark in the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center contained no genetic material from a male. virginshark1wenn.jpg

“The female’s eggs had developed into a fully formed, live (shark) without actually being fertilized by a male,” said Mahmood Shivji, one of the scientists and director of the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

The first documented case of parthenogenesis among sharks involved a pup born to a hammerhead at the Omaha, Nebraska zoo in 2001. The finding marked the first confirmed case of a female shark fertilizing her own eggs and giving birth without sperm from a male. 23shark.jpg

Parthenogenesis has been observed in about 70 species, mainly insects, but also in bony fish, reptiles, birds and now sharks.

The scientists who studied the Virginia and Nebraska sharks said the newly formed pups acquired one set of chromosomes when the mother’s chromosomes split during egg development, then united anew.

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