The only occupants of the shark tank are females. No other males have been present inside that tank, according to aquarium staff. If DNA tests show that it is genetically identical to one of the females, it will be the first observed case of asexual reproduction in sharks known as musolas.
The calf was born to one of two females that spent a decade in the tank of the Acquario Cala Gonone in Sardinia, Italy, without a single male present. Dubbed ‘Ispera’ by aquarium staff, it is likely the result of parthenogenesis, where genetic material from a particular cell from the mother can fertilize an egg to form an embryo.
According to experts, asexual reproduction may be favored by certain species of sharks that live in low-density populations , particularly when females have little chance of finding a male with whom to reproduce.
Parthenogenesis usually occurs in lower plants and invertebrate animals such as ants, wasps, or bees. However, it has also been observed in some species such as reptiles, fish, and even birds that would normally reproduce sexually.
This species of shark ( Mustellus mustellus ) is found in the eastern Atlantic Ocean from the UK to South Africa, but also in the Mediterranean Sea, Madeira and the Canary Islands. Swim at depths of 5 to 625 meters below the surface, but usually does not go below 50 meters. The species can reach about 2 meters in length and 35 cm at birth. According to the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, it is in a vulnerable state.