A process called as parthenogenesis, where the offspring’s are reproduced without sexual assistance of a male, this process isn’t unheard of.
Researchers have noted that some bird, shark species and reptile have demonstrated the technique in captivity, and the recent genetic testing has proved the process is possible.
But what is surprising is that, virgin births had never been confirmed in wild.
Andrew Fields, a marine science researcher at Stony Brook University and the lead author of the study said, “We were conducting routine DNA fingerprinting of the sawfish found in this area in order to see if relatives were often reproducing with relatives because of their small population size. What the DNA fingerprints told us was altogether more surprising; female sawfish are sometimes reproducing without even mating.”
The virgin birthing fish are a species of sawfish called smalltooth sawfish or Pristis pectinata, one of the five types of sawfish, all of which are endangered.
Sawfish are characterized by their long, tooth-filled beaklike projection.
A century ago, the fished were in abundance in Atlantic, but they are now near extinction. The main reason for shrinking population is due to over-fishing and habitat loss, they are now isolated to small pockets of South Florida Coast.
Scientists speculate that the shrinking sawfish population and thinning numbers of available male, are forcing the females to parthenogenesis more often.
Previously, researchers thought that parthenogenesis is not a viable option, but the latest discovery suggests that it is effective.
Dr. Gregg Poulakis, a scientists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said, “The seven parthenogens we found looked to be in perfect health and were normal size for their age, this suggests parthenogenesis is not a reproductive dead end, assuming they grow to maturity and reproduce.”
The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.