This shark looks male but has female reproductive organ | Science News

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The Science Life

Surprise! This shark looks like a male on the outside, but it’s made babies

Bigeye houndsharks found off India’s coast had female reproductive systems

By
10:00am, July 10, 2018
Male bigeye houndshark

BOY BITS  Male bigeye houndsharks have reproductive organs called claspers on their underbellies (inset), which have always been an easy way to distinguish them from females.

It’s easy to tell a male from a female shark. Flip it over. If it has a pair of claspers — finger-like extensions jutting from the end of the pelvic fins — it is male; no claspers means female. Like a penis, claspers deliver sperm inside the female.

That was marine biologist Alissa Barnes’ understanding until she dissected seven bigeye houndsharks (Iago omanesis) with claspers and found a complete female reproductive system in each. None of the seven sharks had any internal male sex organs. Six were pregnant. Barnes, of the Dakshin Foundation, shared her findings June 25 at the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

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