A female zebra shark in Australia has amazed researchers by developing three cubs after staying years faraway from her male companion. Following examinations discovered that she had simply developed the capacity to do it all on her very own.

Leonie the zebra shark wasted nearly 12 years living alongside a male in an aquarium tank in Townsville, Australia. During that time, these two sharks had 24 pups and life was fantastic. Then, someone took Leonie from her home and family, installing her in a different aquarium in 2012. After spending years away from any male sharks, Leonie suddenly gave birth to three healthy babies in 2016.

This caught the attention of Christine Dudgeon, a professor at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Her first avenue of investigation was to make sure that Leonie had not somehow stored her former partner’s sperm and used it to fertilize her own eggs. When tests showed that the pups were only having their mother’s Genetics, it became crystal clear that the shark had likely achieved asexual duplication.

According to New Scientist, “Some vertebrate species have the ability to reproduce asexually even though they normally reproduce sexually,” such as “certain sharks, turkeys, Komodo dragons, snakes, and rays.”

What {|has made} Leonie’s situation especially uncommon is that asexual procreation has a tendency to show itself in females that have never had a sexual history. Apparently, there have only been two other reported cases of this occurring-once with an eagle ray and yet another with a boa constrictor.

Russell Bonduriansky a teacher at the University of New South Wales explains to New Scientist, “In species that are capable of both reproductive modes, there are quite a few studies of changes from asexual to sexual reproduction.” But it’s extremely uncommon for the reverse to happen.