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Virgin Birth in a Hammerhead Shark
Biology Letters
  • Demian D. Chapman, Nova Southeastern University
  • Mahmood S. Shivji, Nova Southeastern University
  • Ed Louis, Henry Doorly Zoo
  • Julie Sommer, Henry Doorly Zoo
  • Hugh Fletcher, Queen's University Belfast - Northern Ireland
  • Paulo A. Prodohl, Queen's University Belfast - Northern Ireland
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Asexual Reproduction,
  • Automictic Parthenogenesis,
  • Chrondrichthyes,
  • Sphyrnidae,
  • Microsatellite DNA Profiling,
  • Genomic Imprinting
Peer Reviewed

Parthenogenesis has been documented in all major jawed vertebrate lineages except mammals and cartilaginous fishes (class Chondrichthyes: sharks, batoids and chimeras). Reports of captive female sharks giving birth despite being held in the extended absence of males have generally been ascribed to prior matings coupled with long-term sperm storage by the females. Here, we provide the first genetic evidence for chondrichthyan parthenogenesis, involving a hammerhead shark (Sphyrna tiburo). This finding also broadens the known occurrence of a specific type of asexual development (automictic parthenogenesis) among vertebrates, extending recently raised concerns about the potential negative effect of this type of facultative parthenogenesis on the genetic diversity of threatened vertebrate species.


© 2007 The Royal Society

Additional Comments
This work was supported by a NSF Graduate fellowship (D.D.C.), the Wildlife Conservation Society (D.D.C.), the Roe Foundation (D.D.C.), Florida Sea Grant Program (M.S.S.), Pew Institute for Ocean Science (M.S.S.) and Queen's University Belfast (P.A.P.).
Citation Information
Demian D. Chapman, Mahmood S. Shivji, Ed Louis, Julie Sommer, et al.. "Virgin Birth in a Hammerhead Shark" Biology Letters Vol. 3 Iss. 4 (2007) p. 425 - 427 ISSN: 1744-9561
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