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Shark alone for 4 years has baby at Phoenix school

The Arizona Republic

The Arizona Republic

Students at Carl Hayden Community High School in Phoenix were stunned when a baby shark appeared in one of their fish tanks.

More amazing was that the mother shark had been alone for nearly four years.

Teacher Fredi Lajvardi and his Phoenix science students investigated and discovered the birth is a rare event. “As far as we know, we are third case worldwide,” Lajvardi said.

This type of birth is known as parthenogenesis, in which an unfertilized egg develops into a new pup, said Lajvardi, program manager for the Carl Hayden Center for Marine Science.

“The mother’s gene divides in half and recombines with its own collection of genes to create a new individual, Lajvardi said. “Normally it would recombine with the father’s half of the gene. But because there is no father, the mother provided the other half.”

It was a learning moments for students who saw first hand how through parthenogenesis a species can reproduce when a mate isn’t present.

The week-old pup, who students have named Dawn, was born to a White-spotted Bamboo Shark named Twilight, who had lived in one of the school’s marine science classrooms.

“When we found out it hatched, everyone rushed the tank,” said Kristen Shriner, a 17-year-old senior, who has overseen the care of the mother shark.

She and other students have been e-mailing scientists to find out how to properly care for Dawn.

For now, Dawn will remain at the school and outside scientists have been invited to visit.

About 200 students study in the marine center at the high school at 3333 W. Roosevelt St. The center has two classrooms and lab with 20 fish tanks.

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