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Bamboo Shark1Timothy Wong/California Academy of Sciences

Shark Stored Sperm For 45 Months

 

A brownbanded bamboo shark holds a new record for sperm storage, scientists confirm

In 2012, a brownbanded bamboo shark dropped an egg case that hatched into a healthy pup – nearly four years since it last interacted with a male – and scientists have now cracked the mysterious turn of events.

The shark had stored sperm, which is a known yet little-documented occurrence. This particular shark, however, holds a new record for the longest known case of sperm storage in any shark species: 45 months. The previous record was 28 months observed in a chain dogfish shark.

Though most species give birth to live young, brownbanded bamboo sharks lay egg cases which store the eggs and embryos until they hatch. Researchers suggest that this phenomenon could be vital in the preservation of shark species.

‘Long-term sperm storage may also play an important role in maintaining genetic diversity of dwindling shark populations,’ they concluded in their report.

Moises Bernal, lead study author and ichthyology researcher at the California Academy of Sciences said in a statement: ‘We know that several species of sharks have reproductive tactics like storing sperm or reproducing by parthenogenesis in the absence of males, but we need to know when and how these alternate techniques are triggered. Understanding these mechanisms—and how they impact genetic diversity—could be vital for the future of shark conservation.’

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