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Zoo trying to unravel ‘virgin’ birth of a shark

SHARE Zoo trying to unravel ‘virgin’ birth of a shark

OMAHA, Neb. (Reuters) — Unraveling the mysterious "virgin" birth of a bonnethead shark in Nebraska last month should make an "interesting research paper," a zoo director said Friday.

The trio of female bonnethead sharks living in a tank at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha "have never been even close to a male bonnethead shark since they arrived as 2- to 3-pound pups," zoo director Lee Simmons said.

There is a male epaulet shark in the same tank, but it is a different species than the bonnethead, which is a smaller version of the hammerhead shark, and would correspond to "a Chihuahua impregnating a Saint Bernard," Simmons said.

DNA tests were begun this week on tissue and blood samples taken from the 3-year-old female bonnetheads and the pup, which died five hours after it was born Dec. 14 after being bitten by a stingray that lives in the same tank.

Several weeks of testing will be needed to determine which shark was the mother and who might have fathered the pup.