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Scientists reveal real reason stingray got pregnant without having any mates in her tank

Scientists reveal real reason stingray got pregnant without having any mates in her tank

Life, uh, finds a way

Scientists have explained how a stingray who had been in her tank for eight years with no males could have become pregnant.

Back in September staff in The Aquarium and Shark Lab in North Carolina were worried that Charlotte the stingray might have developed cancer after they noticed she had some swelling.

Deciding to carry out an ultrasound, they were shocked to discover that Charlotte was actually pregnant with up to four pups (that's what baby stingrays are called) and by now she's not far off the time to give birth.

Charlotte is a strong, independent stingray who don't need no man.

The pups may be Charlotte's babies, but she's going to have to be a single mother as there's no father in her tank, which rather begs the question as to how she got pregnant in the first place.

She did share the tank with some male sharks but experts have quickly debunked any suggestion of Charlotte getting pregnant from them.

When the pups are born staff at the aquarium plan to carry out a DNA test to discover if there is some kind of secret bloke, but what it will likely reveal is the real reason the stingray was pregnant without a man around.

Scientists have explained that what has happened to the stingray is a rare but not unheard of phenomena known as parthenogenesis.

It's a form of asexual reproduction where a female of the species is able to produce an embryo (or as many as four in Charlotte's case) despite the lack of sperm fertilising her eggs.

There are some animals in which parthenogenesis is more common, but for many more creatures it's a very rare and unlikely thing to happen.

Still, as Jeff Goldblum put it in Jurassic Park 'life, uh, finds a way'.

An egg fuses with a cell in the mother's body which triggers cell division and leads to an embryo, making the children an essential clone of the mother.

An ultrasound revealed that Charlotte was pregnant, and experts think this is parthenogenesis, where a female produces an embryo despite having no fertilised egg.

Research scientist Kady Lyons told the Daily Mail that Charlotte's pregnancy is the only recorded example she knows of for round stingrays, though parthenogenesis has occurred for other sea creatures.

The expert was quick to quash any suggestion that Charlotte was due to give birth to some shark-stingray hybrid.

She said: "We don't know why it happens. Just that it's kind of this really neat phenomenon that they seem to be able to do.

"We should set the record straight that there aren't some shark-ray shenanigans happening here."

So we can probably cross that one off the list of possible reasons.

Featured Image Credit: Instagram/Team Ecco

Topics: Animals, US News, Science