16 August 2011

Celebrate diversity: Stingrays

This news story is a good example of the surprises animal keeping throws up:

Sea Life London Aquarium staff were shocked to discover two female stingrays were pregnant, despite that they have had no male contact for two years. ...

It is not unknown for rays to store sperm and wait until “they decide the timing is right” before they give birth, head curator at the central London attraction Paul Hale said.

Could it be parthenogenesis? A quick peek in Google Scholar reveals no records of parthenogenesis in the group. Stingrays’ cousins, sharks, can reproduce without sex, however (previously covered here). That means it is at least plausible to be parthenogenesis rather than sperm storage.

Somebody better be collecting DNA from all those baby stingrays to test this!

At any rate, this story does give me an excuse to watch this:

Hat tip to David Shiffman. Photo by by TGIGreeny on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

No comments: