Muslim Geneticist Sheds Light on Virgin Birth

Posted on May 23, 2007

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Note: The New York Times today (May 22, 2007) has a news item on scientific evidence for the birth of a fatherless shark. In the past Muslim scholars have been using this argument to show that the birth of Jesus without a father is possible, even though rare. It does occur in different species. The present research comes from Dr. Mahmood Shivjee, the director of Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University in Florida. His research has been published in the current issue of Journal Biology Letters.

This shark’s mother is said to have had no contact with male sharks.

This form of asexual reproduction, called parthenogenesis, has been found in other vertebrate species, including some snakes and lizards. But this is the first time it has been documented in a shark.

A Shark born without a father

Researchers from the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University in Florida and Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland found no male DNA in the female baby shark, which was born in December 2001 and died shortly after birth, apparently killed by another fish. The mother was one of three female bonnetheads, a small hammerhead species, that had been captured in Florida and kept without male sharks for three years in the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha.[…]

But through the analysis “it was pretty clear that there was no male contribution,” said Mahmood S. Shivji, director of the Guy Harvey Research Institute and author of a paper on the finding being published online today by the journal Biology Letters.

Instead, the female shark’s own genetic material combined during the process of cell division that produces an egg. A cell called the secondary oocyte, which contains half the female chromosomes and normally becomes the egg, fused with another cell called the secondary polar body, which contains the identical genetic material. [more]

Please click here to read the remainder of the article from the New York Times.

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Posted in: FYI, Islam