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Scientists at an aquarium in North Carolina were baffled when a stingray gave birth to pups despite there being no male in her tank. The Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team Ecco in Hendersonville reported that the stingray had developed eggs, leading to concerns about her health. After an ultrasound, the lab’s executive director concluded that the growths were indeed eggs. One possible explanation for the pregnancy is parthenogenesis, a process in which a female can produce an embryo asexually without an egg being fertilized with sperm. This is a survival mechanism to preserve the species and generally occurs in situations where no males are present, such as in an aquarium or a secluded area of the deep sea.

However, scientists discovered another theory after noticing bite marks on the stingray. The stingray shared her tank with two male sharks. One theory suggests that a male shark may have mated with the stingray, and she was pregnant with two to three pups. However, genetic tests will need to be conducted after the birth to confirm this theory.

As sharks and stingrays are closely related taxonomically, interbreeding between the two species is theoretically possible. The staff at the aquarium is expecting the stingray to give birth at any moment and plans to provide updates on their website and Facebook page.

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