‘Virgin’ pregnant stingray Charlotte has ‘rare disease,’ says North Carolina aquarium |  Science and technology news

‘Virgin’ pregnant stingray Charlotte has ‘rare disease,’ says North Carolina aquarium | Science and technology news

A stingray whose “virgin” pregnancy made headlines around the world has a rare reproductive disease, the aquarium that houses it said.

In an update on the health of the Charlotte ray, the Aquarium and Shark Laboratory in North Carolina He said she had “developed a rare reproductive disease that has negatively affected her reproductive system.”

Charlotte came to international attention in February when the aquarium said she was carrying “between three and four cubs” despite not having found a male stingray in eight years.

“It’s a really strange and unique phenomenon,” Brenda Ramer, its executive director, said at the time while livestreaming Charlotte’s ultrasound.

In the update posted on social media on Friday, the team said: “Many ask the name of the reproductive disease, but it is simply found under the text reproductive disease.

“We ourselves are actively seeking more information.”

They added that they found studies done on a different species of manta ray, but none on round rays, Charlotte’s species.

The aquarium closed Saturday as the team “continues to care for Charlotte and consult with her medical team.”

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Shark theory discarded

Prior to the discovery of the pregnancy, aquarium staff believed Charlotte had cancer after she began to “swell.”

However, they soon discovered that she was pregnant.

Thousands of people shared their theories about how the pregnancy had occurred, with some saying she had been impregnated by a male shark that lived in the tank. However, experts rule it out.

“The morphology of the male shark is not necessarily going to fit the morphology of the female round ray,” Benjamin Perlman of the department of biological sciences at California State University, Long Beach, told NBC’s Today show.

Ramer told Today he now believes Charlotte became pregnant through parthenogenesis, where a woman’s egg is fertilized by her own cells.

If this were the case, Charlotte would probably only be able to give birth to females, as they would be her clones, according to the aquarium.

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‘Not impossible’

In a social media post asking people to stop “dismissing” the aquarium discovery, Ramer said: “Just because something hasn’t happened or hasn’t been documented doesn’t make it impossible.”

The fish is between 12 and 16 years old and was adopted from a private home outside the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, eight years ago.

Aquarium staff noticed that Charlotte was carrying eggs in December.

“It definitely got a lot rounder,” Kinsley Boyette, deputy director of the Shark Lab and Aquarium, told Today.

While humans carry their young in their stomachs, manta rays carry them on their backs. “We realized that it could not be completely buried under the sand and that was what prompted us to perform the ultrasound.”

Now, Charlotte fans around the world are waiting to receive an update on her health after months of speculation.