Stringray’s ‘virgin’ pregnancy: How some species can get pregnant without mating

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A stingray named Charlotte, at the Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO in Hendersonville, North Carolina, has become pregnant without any male mates around, leading to speculation that she might have reproduced asexually, a phenomenon known as parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis involves the merging of an egg with a cellular byproduct of meiosis, a type of cell division that creates sperm or egg cells. The method slightly shuffles the mother’s genes to create offspring that are similar but not exact clones. Parthenogenesis has been observed in at least 80 species, including fish, reptiles, and birds, but never mammals. According to Christine Dell’Amore, senior editor at National Geographic, this form of asexual reproduction is relatively rare and, in very rare cases, is the exclusive form of reproduction for a species.

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