Sand tiger shark trivia: It eats its siblings in the womb while it’s still an embryo

Sand tiger sharks usually give birth to only two babies, but they can carry up to 12 embryos…

Sand tiger shark trivia: It eats its siblings in the womb while it's still an embryo
Sand tiger shark trivia: It eats its siblings in the womb while it’s still an embryo

Sand tiger sharks usually give birth to only two babies, but they can carry up to 12 embryos in the womb. About five months into a typical 12-month pregnancy, the largest embryos start to devour all but one of their cohorts, but scientists have been unable to figure out why.


It turns out that this bloody in-utero massacre was the mother’s fault, all because of the consequences of mating with multiple males.

In 2013, a team of Marine biologists led by demian chapman of stony brook university in the United States began their research. They decided to analyze the embryos of 15 sand tiger shark mothers at different stages of development. DNA tests have shown that in the latter stages of pregnancy, the few embryos that are more likely to remain appear to have only one father. This means that embryos from the strongest fathers are competing with other embryos and winning.

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  5. Sand tiger shark embryos eat each other in the mother’s womb: the embryos in the sand tiger shark’s uterus will kill each other, which is very rare in nature. When the sand tiger shark embryo develops to a length of 100 millimeters, it will cruelly swallow the younger brother and sister. Once all the small embryos have been swallowed, the sand tiger shark embryos will consume the unfertilized eggs in the mother.

  6. In the animal kingdom, the phenomenon of eating the same kind is quite common. Female praying mantises and black widow spiders will swallow mating males, chimpanzees and sloth bears will kill and eat their cubs, and sand tiger sharks can even absorb unfertilized eggs in their mother’s womb when they are still embryos. Some seemingly harmless small animals, such as rabbits and hamsters, are unwilling to bite their children