A Hungarian aquarium is celebrating an extrordinary virgin birth after its lone female shark produced a pup without ever having come into contact with a male shark.
The white-tipped reef shark, named Ibolya by staff, has been on her own at the Nyiregyhaza Centre since she was born seven years ago.
“When I saw the baby shark lying on the bottom of the tank I thought it was a joke,” said Attila Varga, the centre’s director.
“I was amazed when I realised it was a real shark. The mother is very protective of her pup, but as soon as we can, marine biologists want to get a DNA sample from both.”
Parthenogenesis, where an egg starts to divide without being fertilised, occurs in a number of lower animals such as bees and ants but, it was thought, not in higher animals including cartilaginous fish such as a shark.