A resident shark at a Chicago zoo reproduced despite being housed in a habitat all by herself, with no male sharks present.
The blessed mama is an epaulette shark, and the Brookfield zoo shared the following post on their Facebook page.
The post explains, "This epaulette shark has an exciting hatch day story. Sharks reproduce by laying eggs, but what's most interesting is this embryo developed without the need for male fertilization. This process, known as parthenogenesis, is relatively rare for complex vertebrates like sharks, and Brookfield Zoo is believed to be one of only two facilities that have had success in hatching epaulette shark pups produced by asexual reproduction!"
Female epaulette sharks produce these sort of rectangular-shaped egg cases, also known as as "mermaid's purses." When the baby shark hatches they are perfect duplicates of adult epaulette sharks, and the mamas no longer have any contact with their young. The baby sharks is on its own once mama lays the egg, and when it hatches it is fully formed with a set of fins and small, sharp teeth.
According to People, following the pup's birth, the baby shark was closely monitored by zoo staff and is now on display in one of Brookfield Zoo's habitats. It's currently between five to six inches long but will likely reach up to 3 feet when fully grown, per the zoo.
Congratulations to this amazing single mama and her new baby!
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