As of: February 12, 2024, 2:47 p.m
By: Natascha Berger
Crazy pregnancy in an aquarium in the USA: A stingray is expecting offspring without a male companion.
A shark probably impregnated the ray.
Hendersonville – A mysterious pregnancy is currently causing a stir in the US state of North Caroline.
A stingray named Charlotte is expecting offspring.
And that without having had any contact with male conspecifics.
The aquarium staff's theory: One of the two sharks in the same tank impregnated the stingray.
Is there a sensational animal crossing happening here?
Did a shark impregnate a stingray?
Bite wounds could be an indication
In September, aquarium staff first noticed the stingray was swelling and had internal growths.
While the experts initially thought it was cancer, an ultrasound scan revealed the real cause.
The stingray is pregnant and expecting several babies.
However, there were never any male rays in the tank that could have fertilized Charlotte.
Instead, however, two young bamboo sharks joined the stingray in mid-July.
A video on Facebook shows the stingray and the staff performing an ultrasound.
An employee at the Hendersonville Aquarium and Shark Lab tells the
that sharks tend to bite when mating.
The pregnant ray had multiple bite wounds on her fins when the pregnancy was discovered.
For humans, however, shark bites often end in death - but an expert urges calm in the event of shark attacks.
Shark as possible father of stingray offspring - Another theory also possible
Whether one of the two sharks is really responsible for Charlotte's pregnancy will only become clear after the birth of the four cubs.
A DNA test can then be used to determine whether the two marine animals are a crossbreed.
Another theory from the veterinarians and staff: parthenogenesis, the so-called virgin generation.
During parthenogenesis, offspring are created from unfertilized eggs.
The female does not need a male conspecific for fertilization.
In this case, the DNA test would show that the cubs were clones of their mother.
Sensation expected in the USA: A shark is said to have impregnated a ray.
© IMAGO / Pond5 Images & IMAGO / Wirestock
As a study in the journal
shows, it would not be the first time that rays have reproduced without a partner.
In 2015, a team of researchers was able to determine for the first time how endangered sawrays reproduced unisexually in the wild.
Virgin conception occurs primarily in animals in captivity, usually birds or reptiles.
Overall, however, this is rare, according to the veterinarians at the aquarium in North Carolina.
They do not rule out fertilization by a shark, especially because of the bite wounds.
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Did sharks and stingrays produce a new hybrid animal species in the USA?
The stingray is said to give birth to up to four young animals.
The marine animals are usually pregnant for three to four months; the due date should be around February 9th.
However, the birth is still pending and it remains exciting for now whether one of the sharks is actually the father of the babies.
What the animals might look like is still unclear.
Most recently, documentary filmmakers captured spectacular images of a newborn white shark.
If sharks and stingrays really have bred in North Carolina, it would mean a new hybrid animal.
Well-known crosses include ligers, the result of crossing lions and tigers, zorses from zebras and horses or the narluga, a mix of narwhals and beluga whales.
Crossbreeding in the animal world is unusual, but not rare.
there could be more and more hybrid animals, especially in the future, as habitats shift due to climate change.
While crosses can be important for genetic research and evolution, they can also weaken a species, as hybrids are often more susceptible to disease and have a lower life expectancy.