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A “virgin birth” at Burj Al Arab

A “virgin birth” at Burj Al Arab

Male sharks beware. The world’s first 7-star hotel finds itself fostering a female shark that found a way to continue its lineage without the help of a mate.

January 8, 2012 1:05 by



If being a 7-star hotel and having golf giant Rory McIlroy (Jumeirah Group’s Global Brand Ambassador) tee off on its helipad isn’t enough of a pull for you to stay at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, would the latest set of eggs from a lone zebra shark in the hotel’s aquarium do the trick?

You read that right. A zebra shark in the Burj Al Arab’s aquarium, which has never been introduced to a male shark, is laying eggs that are developing into live baby sharks.

Male sharks beware. The world’s first 7-star hotel (unofficially rated) finds itself fostering a female shark that found a way to continue its lineage without the help of a mate.

Apparently these ‘virgin births’ or parthenogenetic reproduction (try saying that five times really quickly) started back in 2007.
The births have recently made their way into the global stage with both the BBC and National Geographic covering the story.

Here’s the video from National Geographic: (w/c oddly doesn’t have any audio):

And click the image below to watch the BBC video:

According to National Geographic, this is not the first reported asexual reproduction among female sharks that do not have access to male counterparts. Female hammerheads, black tip sharks and bamboo sharks have also exhibited this capability. One catch though is that all the babies are female.

Scientists say this gives the sharks an ‘evolutionary edge’ over other species as they are able to survive in extreme situations and continue their lineage even without the survival of males of the species. So is that it? Is the secret to survival being able to asexually reproduce?



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