A stingray pregnant with ashark

A stingray pregnant with a…shark?

A stingray may have been impregnated by a shark at an aquarium in North Carolina in the United States.

The conditions under which the ray “Charlotte” became pregnant were the result of a “mystery,” according to the managers of the ECCO Team Aquarium and Shark Laboratory Facebook page.

Researchers waited three months before releasing the news because they initially believed the sea creature might have cancer

Dr. However, Robert Jones of the Zvet Aquarium in Australia and graduate student Becka Campbell of the University of Arizona confirmed that the stingray was indeed pregnant based on their analysis of the ultrasound images.

The mystery is that there are no male rays living in the aquarium with “Charlotte,” according to the aquarium's director and founder, Brenda Ramer, in an interview with ABC 13 News.

“In mid-July 2023, we transferred two one-year-old male white-spotted scorpion sharks to the aquarium,” said Ramer. We later noticed bite marks on Charlotte, but we also noticed other fish nibbling on her, so we relocated the fish, but the bite sightings continued.”

The director explained that male sharks have a habit of biting the female when they mate, and “Charlotte” had several bites on her fins.

“We will have children either through parthenogenesis or through some sort of hybrid,” she said Feb. 8.

“We’re currently waiting for Jeff Goldblum because we’re in Jurassic Park,” she jokes.

What is parthenogenesis?

The hypothesis that the ray was impregnated by one of the two sharks is possible, but “it would be surprising, even quite unlikely,” says Véronique Bussières, director of biocultural conservation at SNAP in Quebec.

Such phenomena have already been observed in nature, says the director, using the example of a pizzly bear, a mixed breed of polar bear and grizzly bear.

However, “these are still species that are very close to each other,” she specifies.

In the case of the ray and the shark, which are “related,” the two marine animals are “different species groups.”

In their opinion, the parthenogenesis hypothesis is much more plausible.

Parthenogenesis “means that the female fertilizes herself,” explains the guest in an interview on LCN. So it's not like she's a hermaphrodite (both sexes). It is a female, but her egg would have been self-fertilized by another of her own cells.”

In the case of self-fertilization, “the babies would be little clones of the mother,” says Ms. Bussières.

***Watch the interview with Véronique Bussières in the main video***