Ladies, listen up: While many of us of slightly-less-than a certain age have started reaching our “scary age”s and have taken to searching the web for ways to delay (or defeat) the tick-tick-icking of our biological clocks, a few select members of superorder Selachimorpha have taken matters into their own hands: a quick search of National Geographic’sarchives generates no fewer than 742 hits on “virgin births” in the animal world. two of note occured in sharks.
In October of 2008, a female blacktip shark in Virginia was confirmed to have successfully committed parthenogenesis– a process by which females of some species can produce young without the sticky contribution and equally sticky commitment issues of males.
Lest you women out there feel too much jealous animosity towards “Tidbit” (the female blacktip in question), you should also know that she died on the physician’s table during a routine physical exam. It was during the subsequent necropsy that scientists discovered that she was carryng a near-term shark pup, as there had been no previous indication of gestation. Yes, you read right: she managed to get pregnant on her own and didn’t even have to worry about stretch marks. But then she died.
The first time scientists had witnessed parthenogenesis amongst sharks was at a Nebraska zoo in 2001, when a baby hammerhead was born to one of three possible mothers in the shark tank, none of which had access to males. Sadly, despite the successful full-term birth, the baby hammerhead (see photo, below) was killed within hours by a stingray cohabiting the tank.
The author of BV submits that there is something fishy going on: these “virgin births” seem to end only in tragedy… perhaps it should be a lesson to us all…
* Legal disclaimer: the author of B.V. in no way means to insinuate that this fish is actually Jesus, that its fate is related to or sheds light on the Christain belief system, or even that the joke is particularly funny. Any complaints should be directed to Rush Limbaugh .**
**Legal disclaimer: The author of B.V. does not claim any affiliation, topical, personal, creative, contractual, or otherwise, with Mr. Limbaugh or his production company, but is sure he’d love to hear from you.