Virgin zebra shark stuns scientists by giving birth without having sex with a male

A SHARK has given birth despite being stuck in a tank on her own for three years.

In a world first, the zebra shark appeared to have switched from sexual to asexual production.

It comes as it was revealed that sharks could hold the key to beating Parksinons.

Leonie was captured in 1999 and placed with a male in Reef HQ Aquarium in Australia.

The pair began having babies up until 2013, when Leonie was separated permanently from the male.

But three years on, she fell pregnant.

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Christine Dudgeon, biologist with the University of Queensland, published a report on Leonie's bizarre behaviour in Scientific Reports.

She said it was normal for sharks to lay eggs, however, they would be unlikely to hatch.

In Leonie's case, however, the embryos did hatch and had matching genes – suggesting they were produced asexually.

"It was definitely a surprise," said Hamish Tristram, a senior aquarist with Reef HQ. "She had been mating successfully for several years, and there was nothing much published about such large animals switching reproductive strategy so quickly."

An eagle ray and a boa constrictor, both held in captivity, are the only other species known to have undergone this unusual biological shift.

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