Show Details

Fatherless Fish

June 2, 2015

A critically endangered fish may be making up for to a lack of mates by reproducing without sex.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Juvenile smalltooth sawfish Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission FWC

A juvenile smalltooth sawfish (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

Offspring without sex. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The smalltooth sawfish is an endangered fish that looks like a big shark with a sawtooth snout. In the journal Current Biology, Stony Brook University researcher Andrew Fields and his colleagues report on several wild caught sawfish that DNA analysis shows were born without the assistance of males. Fields says it’s the first case of a normally sexual vertebrate living in the wild having viable offspring without sex. He suspects a lack of mates is driving the phenomenon.

ANDREW FIELDS (Stony Brook University):

If this is due to them being an endangered species, we really need to do something about it, because it might be a big warning sign that the species could be going extinct soon.

HIRSHON:

The fish suffer from a lack of breeding habitat in the southeastern US coast and are down to just five percent of their normal population. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Juvenile smalltooth sawfish Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission FWC2

A juvenile smalltooth sawfish (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)