Nature is beautiful and mysterious beyond imagination. The perfect example of one of many nature's mysteries would be this latest update that says two female eagle ray fish have given birth to pups without a male ray fish being present in their ranks. Astonishing isn't it? Well, the science community is wondering as well. The female fish, Nibble and Spot are at display at SEA Life Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium in Auckland, New Zealand and without a male being around they both managed to delivered pups on New Year's Eve. And not just during the time of birthing, both the female Eagle rays have not been with a male for two years leaving people scratching their heads.

Well, experts are presenting theories in this case without any confirmation. The curator of the museum thinks that the rays gave birth without a male because they may have had "stored sperms" from their last encounter.  But before that let's understand, what is virgin birthing, scientifically known as Parthenogenesis.

What is Virgin Birth?

A Parthenogenesis, commonly known as virgin birthing is said to be a natural form of asexual reproduction in which case an egg develops into an embryo without being fertilised. Yes. It is possible that birth takes place without the fertilisation. Spontaneous parthenogenetic and androgenetic events have also been seen in humans however, they usually result in tumours aka the ovarian teratoma and the hydatidiform mole, etc. An unfertilized egg develops into a new individual making birth of a new life possible without fertilisation. Examples of parthenogenesis include honey bees, ants, birds, etc.

Sperm storage isn't very common in rays which may suggest that this may be the first instance of such birth in Eagle rays.  Andrew Christie, the curator of the aquarium, says that there are two possible explanations. He explains, "It could have occurred through a process called parthenogenesis, which is a rare reproductive strategy where an embryo develops without fertilization" or alternatively, "the more likely scenario" would be "Sperm storage" that "has been recorded in several shark and ray species".

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jan 23, 2021 12:26 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website