Eagle ray virgin birth performed in Dutch zoo

For the first time, it has been proven that eagle rays can be born through asexual reproduction. The Koninklijke Burgers' Zoo in Arnhem has confirmed this on the basis of scientific genetic research on its collection of eagle rays, De Weekkrant reports.

It is known that there are several organisms who reproduce asexually, such as reptiles, insects and some fish species, including four shark species. The process is called parthenogenesis. It was never discovered in rays, however, until now.

The zoo is the biggest breeder of white-speckled eagle rays in the world. Since 2009, it has bred a total of 37 baby rays. There are two males in the colony, and four adult females. At birth, the zoo performs DNA research to see which of the two fathers it was born to. It does so by clipping a little bit off of its stinger, which the fish cannot feel, and which grows back. This is normal practice for aquariums as well, as it makes it easier to handle the fish and avoids the possibility of being stung, which can be poisonous.

With this newly born eagle ray, it seems that there was no DNA present matching either of the male rays. Biologist Max Janse says that Burgers' Zoo is the first in the world to discover this. Sadly, however, the eagle ray died three days later of a bacterial infection. An autopsy on the ray showed that it was normal and healthy.