An artificial uterus for sharks, and in-utero cannibalism

20 Jan

Sharks give birth to live young. The eggs “hatch” within the mother’s uterus and stay there for almost a year. Scientists have successfully grown and given birth to baby sharks using an artificial uterus. It is basically a complex aquarium, with multiple chambers, filtration systems for bacteria, water exchange systems, and lots of sensors.

Though the artificial uterus is basically to prove a concept at this point, scientists are thinking that it may one day help to increase the dwindling numbers of the grey nurse shark.

More info here.

Though the idea of an artificial uterus is a bit freaky in a Brave New World kind of way, the thing that blows my mind the most about this is just a fact about sharks I learned along the way. Apparently, grey nurse sharks cannibalize their brothers and sisters while still in the womb. There are many eggs that hatch in utero. Their egg sacks run out after about two months. Hungry, the baby sharks survive the rest of the year in utero by eating their brothers and sisters. In the end, only the biggest and strongest shark remains. As if sharks weren’t scary enough.

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One Response to “An artificial uterus for sharks, and in-utero cannibalism”

  1. Noah Read (@noahread) January 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    Just shows you that the surviving sharks are all the scariest ones available.

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