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Strange Nebraska Creatures

Nebraska Bigfoot Sightings
From the Bigfoot Researchers Organization webpage

Late Afternoon sighting by motorist near Blue Springs

YEAR: 1974


DATE: Early Fall

STATE: Nebraska

COUNTY: Gage County

LOCATION DETAILS: Southbound on highway 77, near Blue Springs, Nebraska,

NEAREST TOWN: Blue Springs, NE

NEAREST ROAD: Highway 77

OBSERVED: While traveling southbound on highway 77, near Blue Springs, Nebraska, I encountered a very large bi-pedal creature. As I came around a gentle left curve in the road, this creature stepped up out of the ditch on my side and with one stride was upon the road bed and with two more strides was across and going down into the ditch on the other side, a car coming the other way also saw this and we both slowed to a crawl as we came to the spot, I asked if they saw something and they responded they had also seen it.

I was most impressed with the girth of the creatures legs, and torso, it was massive and about 7-8 feet in height, I would estimate the weight to be 6-700 pounds, the body was covered in medium length blackish brown hair, and the face appeared to be less hairy, I was not close enough to see any facial features, the arms swung normally and were longer than a mans proportionately. The quick stride and the movement was what impressed me the most along with the sheer mass. I'm familiar with the bigfoot lore having lived in California, but I never thought I would see one, especially in Nebraska. There was a creek just south of where the creature entered the road way, it seems it could have gone under the bridge if it wanted and remained unseen, it did not appear alarmed, just quick.

This incident occurred in the Fall of 1974 I believe. I'm fifty and been an outdoorsman all my life. Good luck, hope you catch one, then maybe they will be protected, just don't kill one, might be the last one. The incident made a believer of me regardless what people say, I've seen one.

ALSO NOTICED: did not stick around although afterward I wished I had gotten out and followed it but I was not equipped or properly armed.

OTHER WITNESSES: yes a car coming from the south, also saw it, I confirmed this by asking them as we both crept by the spot in the road. We were both driving, myself southbound and they were northbound.

ENVIRONMENT: Across highway 77, in Nebraska, just north of a unnamed creek with a small steel bridge near Blue Springs, Nebraska. Creature was in full view for less than five seconds, it moved with a purpose.

Teen has nighttime sighting near Fontenelle Forest

YEAR: 1975

SEASON: Summer

STATE: Nebraska

COUNTY: Sarpy County

LOCATION DETAILS: Georgia Ave. and Tulip Ln. run East-West My house was approximately 1/3 of a mile from Bellevue Blvd., which ran along the heavily forested area of Fontenelle Forest.


NEAREST ROAD: Between Georgia Ave. and Tulip Ln.

OBSERVED: The following occured in 1975 when I was 14 years old. My family lived in Bellevue, Nebraska (near Offutt Air Force Base) where my father had recently retired from the U.S. Air Force after 24 years of active duty. I now live in Florida.

Actually, this incident was a series of three encounters over a three-day period. A bit of background seems necessary. My girlfriend lived on the next block. Our houses were separated by a field with a stand of trees on the north side of the field; the stand of trees was approximately 20 feet wide at that time and ran East-West. The stand of trees ran to the East to Bellevue Blvd. On the East side of Bellevue Blvd. was a heavely forested area that was either a part of, or bordered, Fontenelle Forest. I would go over to my girlfriend's house and visit until it was time for me to go back home (my curfew was 10:00 pm during the summer).

The first incident occurred as I was crossing the field on my way home around 10:00 p.m. I was walking in a NW direction with the thick stand of trees to my right. I heard heavy foot-falls and occasional snapping of branchs within the stand of trees. Whatever it was within the trees was paralleling me. When I stopped, it stopped. When I began walking again, it began walking. It was very dark in the field and I could not see anything. After several stops and starts, I became somewhat frightened and ran the rest of the way across the field, climbed over the 4-foot chainlink fence that surrounded our backyard, and ran up our backyard (it was basically a hill) and into the house.

The second incident happened the very next night. This occurrence happened exactly the same way as the first incident.

The final incident happened on the third night. As I crossed the field I again heard the heavy foot-falls and snapping of small branches within the stand of trees. However, this time I was not being paralled; the thing was heading in a SW direction which placed it on an intercept course to my NW direction of travel. I could hear it getting closer, but could not see anything because of the extreme darkness. Near the point of interception, I began to smell a foul odor. The odor was very stong and almost made me gag. By now the foot-falls were very near. I could feel the thing cross in front of me very close, but could not see anything. The foot-falls were now on my left. At this point I became extremely scared and began running across the field. I'm not sure, but I suspect I cleared our 4-foot fence without even touching it.

About half-way up the hill (our backyard) I stopped. I can't explain why I did this, but I simply felt compelled to do so. I turned around and saw what had crossed my path. The backyard and a portion of the field was nicely illuminated by a flood-light my father had put on the back of the house.

Standing at the edge of the field next to a clothes-line pole, was a creature on two legs. It was covered in dark brown hair. I estimate the height at 7 feet. This is based on the fact that the clothes-line pole was 6 feet in height and the creature's head was a good foot above the top of the pole. I was approximately 40-50 feet from it, but could not make out any facial features. I recall that there was eye-shine, but I can't recall the color, possibly reddish. The thing was extremely thick across the chest. The arms hung almost to the knees. This thing was very muscular. We stood there staring at each other for approximately 20 seconds before I turned and ran into my house (I chickened out before it did).

There is no question in mind that what I saw was a bigfoot.

OTHER WITNESSES: No witnesses, myself only.

OTHER STORIES: Yes. After my experience, I told my girldfiend and her mother. Her mother said that I must have seen the Missouri Mo (Mo = short for Monster). She told me that she had heard of several people seeing a similar creature in the forest and near the Missouri River (only a short distance from my house).

TIME AND CONDITIONS: The incident occurred at approximately 10:00 pm. The weather was warm and clear. It was extremely dark in the field. However, my backyard, and a portion of the field, was well illuminated by a flood-light on the back of our house.

ENVIRONMENT: Hardwood trees made up the wooded area.

Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Stan Courtney: I spoke at length by phone with the witness, who is a neuropsychologist. He related that although this area is not rural it is a wooded area that is only about a mile from the Missouri River.

Multiple witness sighting at night, 3 miles east of Mead, Nebraska

YEAR: 1979

SEASON: Summer




COUNTY: Saunders County

LOCATION DETAILS: Location was on the South side of Highway 92, 3 miles east of Mead,Nebraska.

NEAREST TOWN: 3 miles East of Mead, Nebraska

NEAREST ROAD: Highway 92

OBSERVED: First of all this happened in the summer of 1979 on the 4th of July. This is the first of two possible encounters I have experienced over 22 years. The second occurred on November 10th in 2001.
We had just finished lighting our 4th of July fireworks and were sitting around the patio talking and relaxing. There were probably 8 adults and 6 kids at my former InLaws farm house.
It was around 11pm when a friend of ours jumped up from his chair screaming for everyone to look at the bean field across the highway from the house.
As we all turned to look we noticed something very large walking West to East aproximately 300 yards into the feild. It was a fairly clear and the moon was very bright that night. The animal/creature walked at a very fast pace through the beans to a point behind a hill where we lost sight of it.
I have hunted my entire life and have never seen anything like this before. It walked leaning slightly forward, swinging it's arms as it moved across the field. At the distance it was from us the only thing we could notice is the size.
I had been target shooting earlier that day and had a fire arm in my truck. My brother InLaw and I decided to go see if we could get a closer look at it. My 4X4 Ford truck was a former security truck so it was equiped with spotlights.
We enter the field and drove to a point where we could see the trail heading to the East which we began to follow in the truck. We came to a barbed wire fence where one could tell something had crossed the fence and headed off into a tree line some 50 to 75 yards from the fence.
WE sat there for maybe five minutes scanning the tree line with the spotlights and noticed nothing. I don't know if it was fear or common sense but we looked at each other and decided that whatever tore up the ground around the fence was too close for us to be sitting out in the field looking around in the dark. I put the truck into reverse and backed the entire way back out to the highway.
This area is close to an old military base which stored ammo and bombs during WWII. There are numerous under ground storage bunkers a couple miles south of this area.
No one at the gathering ever mentioned or talked about it again. I divorced 3 years later and have had no contact with my InLaws since then. I later heard tha tthey moved away from the old farmhouse to another town.
I will submit the second occurance on a seperate report.

ALSO NOTICED: There were no other sounds heard or any other strange things happening that evening. There were a lot of people in the area lighting fireworks as it was the 4th of July.

OTHER WITNESSES: There were possibly 8 adults which witnessed the the animal/creature.

OTHER STORIES: Later that year my Brother In Law said that the night watchman from a large cattle feed lot where he had worked, sighted something out walking by the cattle on his patrol one night.

TIME AND CONDITIONS: At 11pm on a fairly clear night.

ENVIRONMENT: This was an open bean field which had a wooded area on the east side of it.

Hunter has evening sighting near Bazile Creek State Wildlife Management Area

YEAR: 1979


STATE: Nebraska

COUNTY: Knox County

LOCATION DETAILS: Bazile Creek State Wildlife Management Area. Along Missouri River



OBSERVED: Approximatley 40 yards away standing on the edge of a ravine. Hight difficult to estimate because of standing a little down hill. somewhere around 7ft. Gray hair over entire body. muscular very thick neck. Was standing very erect, turning head side to side as if trying to smell for something. Looked directly at me and I ducked down. When I looked again nothing was there. I heard a scream the previous day but attributed that to a bobcat. A friend of mine was in a deer stand approx. 1 and 1/4 mile away as the crow flies down from the ravine in the direction in which I thought it went. He told me that I wouldn't believe what ran by his deer stand. He described to me the same thing I saw. He was very upset.

ALSO NOTICED: As stated earlier. The previous day I heard a scream It was very long and loud almost like a womans scream. I thought someone fell off of one of the cliffs in the area. When I described the scream to people the said it was a bobcat. It may have been. i don't know if this is related or not.

OTHER WITNESSES: A friend of mine hunting with me. As described above. He will not talk about it. For fear of being ridiculed.

TIME AND CONDITIONS: it was about an hour before sunset

ENVIRONMENT: Edge of ravine approx. 250 yards from river. Moderate to Heavy wooded area. Chalk rock cliffs and marsh area.

Newspaper account of an encounter with an unknown creature near Salt Creek

YEAR: 1980

SEASON: Unknown

STATE: Nebraska

COUNTY: Lancaster County

LOCATION DETAILS: In Lincoln Nebraska; Lancaster county on 27th and Fairfield Street about one and a half miles south of the city limit.


NEAREST ROAD: Fairfield Street

OBSERVED: A man on a motorcycle turned off of 27th street onto Fairfield Street. just in front of the Lincoln Electric Co. He said a bigfoot like creature ran in front of him causing him to fall, the creature proceeded south towards Salt Creek about half a block. This area at the time was very isolated. Now there are buildings everywhere and the city limits have been moved back considerably. It was in the papers the next day we lived about half a mile up Fairfield St. I remember not wanting to go outside in the neighborhood at night for awhile. The kids were still young so it must have been between 15-18 years ago. At the time of the sighting there was mostly farmland. The guy was so scared he continued on his way, after he got up from the fall he also said it just smelled terrible. Anyway that's what the Lincoln Journal and Star reported the next day. I must tell you the New Lincoln Electric System bldg was new and out in the middle of nowhere. Just a few new houses were scattered west and northwest of the building

ALSO NOTICED: Just the terrible smell.

OTHER WITNESSES: He was riding a motorcycle on 27th st. and turned onto Fairfield he was the only witness to this. He said the creature ran out in front of him causing him to fall.

OTHER STORIES: I'd like you to contact the Lincoln Journal and Star. They may have to go back a few years but I promise it's there, as god is my witness, of course there were few believers.

ENVIRONMENT: Mostly farmland open field around the bldg. A creek just a few blocks from the Lincoln Electric Co. Building. Houses were west and Northwest this area is between Fairfield and Cornhusker Highway to the south. The building sat in the middle of nowhere.

Various sightings by residents near the Missouri River

YEAR: 2002

SEASON: Summer

MONTH: August

STATE: Nebraska

COUNTY: Douglas County

LOCATION DETAILS: (Location withheld by request).


NEAREST ROAD: Interstate 80

OBSERVED: We live near Omaha, Nebraska. I am speaking on behalf of my mother. My mother first saw this "thing " when she was 10 years old. You have to understand the way the neighborhood we live in is set up. The house my mother lived in when she was 10 is less than a quarter mile away from the house that she lives in today. All of the yards in that neighborhood sort of connect with somewhat of a gully in the middle.

The first time my mother had any knowledge of the thing, her sister and her were swinging on a double tire swing in her backyard. The next thing my mother knew, her sister had jumped off the swing and was running and screaming. My mom didn't know what to do, so she ran after her sister into the house. Her sister was hysterical saying she saw something in the back wooded area of their yard. I guess my grandpa did find some sort of large footprints. This was the first incident.

The next incident was when my mom was outside her house when she was young. She saw a large thing covered in hair walking across her driveway. My mom told me that the "thing" walked almost as if it was bo-legged. She also said it's shoulders moved from side to side as it walked.

Now my mother lives in the house I grew up in. As recently as two weeks ago, something has been seen in my mother's back yard. It hasn't only been seen by my mother, but also by my sister who frequently stays at my mom's house.

In April 2002 is when my mom had her most vivid and frightening encounter with the "thing". She was letting our dogs out in the backyard and they both went barreling towards the fence surrounding our yard barking. My mom walked out in the yard, thinking nothing other than the dogs were just being dogs, and was standing waiting for them to use the bathroom. It was then when she noticed something moving in the next yard. She said it was about seven feet tall and standing behind a tree. She said as fast as the dogs had ran up to the fence to bark, they were running back to the house yelping. My mom said she froze. She always tells me the fear that she feels when she sees this "thing" is overwhelming. She said it then "leaped" from behind one tree to another. That's when she started running. She said she looked behind her and it was now coming forward towards her. She ran in the house and locked the doors.

My mom lives in a brick house and she has also told me that on occasion she will hear something that sounds like something beating or throwing itself up against the side of her house.

My mom is completely afraid of this "thing". We would really like someone to contact us or something. My mom doesn't really talk about this to anyone because she feels that they'd all think she was crazy. We don't know what to do but we do need some help or advice.

OTHER WITNESSES: Two witnesses. Working just before or just being at home.

OTHER STORIES: My father also grew up about a block away from my mom. Their family has their own stories from the same area. Other than that, we've never asked. We've come to figure that anyone else in the neighborhood who've maybe seen something, probably thinks everyone will think they're crazy. We've never asked anyone around there.

TIME AND CONDITIONS: Just before sunrise, clear and nice weather.

ENVIRONMENT: Wooded area connected to backyards.

Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Stan Courtney:

After speaking with the woman who had the sighting (she is the mother of the person who submitted the report), I can add the following details:

• The witness has had several brief sightings over the years. The most memorable event is the one reported. It occurred in April of 2002.

• The witness stated the animal was 7 feet tall, weighed 350 pounds and looked very muscular.

• The hair was medium brown and long like a "long-haired dog."

• The hair was not matted.

• The witness said although she could not see the face very well, she could make out a big brow and the eyes appeared to be deep set.

• The animal had a fat, wide neck, very long ape-like arms and big hands.

• The animal leaped sideways three times going from tree to tree.

• After leaping sideways it made a leap forward. This alarmed the witness and she ran back into the house.

• The animal came as close as 20 feet to the witness while on the other side of a chain-link fence.

Possilble daylight sighting by hikers (at 300-400 yds.) in Chadron State Park

YEAR: 2006


MONTH: October

DATE: 29

STATE: Nebraska

COUNTY: Dawes County


NEAREST ROAD: Nebraska 385

OBSERVED: [Editors note regarding classification of this report: This report is Class B for two reasons: 1) It was not written by the actual witness, and 2) the figure was distant -- 300-400 yards.]

I am writing this on behalf of my father-in-law. On October 29, 2006 he, his wife, and a friend were hiking on the lookout trail in Chadron State Park. Walking east, they came to a place where the trail takes a sharp turn to the south. As they rounded the turn, my father-in-law's friend looked towards the north and noticed someone, or something, standing on top of a limestone ridge about 300 to 400 yards away. He stopped my father-in-law (my mother-in-law was walking a bit ahead of the two of them) and pointed the figure out to him. Even from that distance, they could tell that there were some unusual features about the figure. It was unusually tall and covered from head to toe in black fur. They watched it for five minutes as it stood on the ridge and swayed back and forth before it casually walked behind a limestone outcrop and disappeared into the pine forest.

They have no idea what this creature is that they witnessed. The only reasonable explanation we could come up with is that since it is so close to Halloween, someone was running around in the forest in a gorilla costume. But the area is extremely remote (a combination of national forest land and Nebraska state park land) and this explanation, though plausible, is highly unlikely.

OTHER WITNESSES: Only two; the third person kept walking on the trail and did not see it.

OTHER STORIES: There have been many recent reported sightings on the Pine Ridge Ogallal Sioux reservation forty miles north of Chadron.

ENVIRONMENT: Part of the pine ridge area of western Nebraska. National forest and state park land; densely wooded with deep canyons and limestone cliffs.

Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator David Petti:

I reviewed the circumstances which led to the submission of this report with the initial submitter. He reiterated the details of the conversation he shared with the witnesses upon their return and their conclusion that they had possibly or probably witnessed a bigfoot. He then obtained permission from his father-in-law to personally discuss his observations with me also.

The witness is a local college professor. He and his friend observed the figure at a distance he estimated to be almost a quarter-mile away and on a prominent ridge. He assumed it possible that the figure did not see them because it did not appear to be paying particular attention to their location which was in the pines and in shadows. At first, they thought it may have been a very large person in a heavy jacket but quickly decided that was unlikely given the very warm temperature of about seventy degrees for this late October mid-afternoon. It was uniformly black in coloration from head to toe and a glossy sheen reflection was occasionally visible.The figure was only on two legs the entire time they observed it as they watched for three to five minutes before it moved off and out of sight behind the ridge. Upon further consideration, the witness also thought it noteworthy that a nearby windmill provided a reliable source of water.

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Nebraska Mass Murderer Charles Starkweather Saw Bigfoot
In the journal Starkweather kept in prison, awaiting death in the electric chair in June 1959, he told of seeing, as a boy, a strange creature outside his Midwestern window in the mornings. He described it as a female whose hairy body "tapered off from a big chest to a small pointed head." The visitations were accompanied by strange whistling sounds. Starkweather thought it was Death visiting him, and said of the sounds: "It was close and loud at first, but it got further and further away and the sound became mournful and sad until I couldn't hear it no more." Death did not make him afraid, however: "The world on the other side couldn't be as bad as this one."

Robert Damon Schneck's article "Death Had a Sagittal Crest," which appeared in the February 1999 issue of Fate magazine, points out that Starkweather's Bigfoot sighting was, in many ways, classic. "It would be easy to ignore this story, considering the source," Schneck writes, "if it weren't a classic Sasquatch sighting from before the name 'Bigfoot' was ever applied [my emphasis]. Starkweather had no idea what he was seeing. Since he was the kind of person inclined to mass murder, he decided it must be death come to howl at his window."

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Amazing Nebraska Cryptid Photo

A remarkable photographic image has been snapped on the morning of June 13, 2006, in a woman’s backyard in the Midwestern state of Nebraska. KETV-7 in Omaha broadcast the picture on June 14, and it appears to be an animal unlike any most people have seen locally.

Nebraska Cryptid

In the short dispatch, the Nebraska news staff report that:

Mary Ann Carta lives near 138th and Hamilton streets, and she took some pictures of the animal that she saw. She said it could be a bobcat, but it has her scared about taking her morning walk or allowing her grandchildren to play outside.

"I was not afraid at the moment. I was in the house, but I was just thinking about yesterday with the grandkids it was like, what would I have done," Carta said.

An expert at the Henry Doorly Zoo is examining the pictures. He thinks it could be a feral cat.

What are we to make of the hint of striping on the back? The long canid-like legs? And long thin tail?

A werewolf, perhaps? I’m mildly joking, but that moniker has been used in reports before, as we know from the work of Linda Godfrey, northeast of Nebraska, in Wisconsin.

Or how about something else from the upper Mountain States? The image does have an cryptid canid or hynea-like appearance, reminding me of the Shunka Warak’in mystery taxidermy mount from the 1880s, seen and recorded from the Yellowstone area, as pictured below, and discussed in Cryptozology A-Z.

Shunka Warakin


Story taken from CryptoMundo

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Alkali Lake Monster

Alkali Lake is located in Nebraska.  The Indians of this area told the white settlers of a creature dwelling in the lake.  In 1923,  J.A. Johnson reported in the Omaha World-Herald that he, along with 2 friends, saw the creature.  He also states that he knew of 40 others who had also seen the animal.  The 3 saw the creature while camping near the lake.  The saw the creature 3/4 out of the water and about 20 yards away.   They described the creature as being 40 ft long, dull gray/brown and a horn-like object between it's eyes and nostrils.  They said it looked similar to an alligator but was bigger and heavier than an alligator.  When the creature noticed the men, it thrashed it's tail about and then dove under the water.

Promotional objects sold by the Hay Springs Centennial Committee in 1985. The depiction commemorates the creature as reported by local resident J.A. Johnson in 1923. He described it as forty feet long, dull gray/brown, with a horn-like object between its eyes and nostrils. Some have speculated that Johnson actually saw an unusually large beaver.

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Nebraska Bigfoot
In August 1976 a woman sitting outside a farmhouse in southeastern Nebraska noticed a sudden eerie silence among the animals. 300 yards away, silhouetted against the sky, stood a huge hairy figure. It moved rapidly through the pasture towards her, panicking the dogs. It broke down the wire fence and was only 30 feet from her when it vanished before her eyes. It nevertheless left hair samples on the fence, but the state's Game and Parks Commission refused to look at them.

Another Bigfoot Sighting- Minden, NE 1948
In 1948 in Minden, NE Chet Valentine reported seeing a mystery animal that was not a dog, but looked like a species of the cat family. Valentine had reported seeing the animal after tracking it a considerable distance in the snow and losing track of it in a wheat field.

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Freaky Flier
On a fall afternoon in 1956 near Falls City, Nebraska, John Hanks saw a winged, man-like creature flying only 15 feet above the ground. It's wings were like shiney aluminum and had multi-colored lights running along their underside. The wings, which spanned 15 feet, were clearly attatched to the man by means of a shoulder harness. The flying man also had some kind of control panel affixed to his chest, and he manipulated the dials as he flew. This sighting could have been attributed to some remarkable, new flying invention if not for the witness description of the flying man himself: leathery wrinkled skin, large, watery blue eyes and a face that was "very frightening, almost demonic." The witness also tesified that he was paralyized as this man-creature flew over.

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Big Black Bird

posted by Bob <> on October 1, 2003

A couple of weeks ago, I saw what appeared to be a Turkey Vulture. The wings shape and under color was nearly exact. However, my guess is that the wingspan was between 10 and 12 foot. I have loved birds all my life and recently started reading Crypto books. I looked up the Turkey Vulture in one of my bird books and it indicates a wingspan of only 6 foot. I saw this bird in plain view on a sunny day. It was maybe 200 feet in the air and the sighting lasted for one or two minutes. I saw this bird abotu a month or so before this. same thing, not very high up and just gliding leisurly. I am in central Nebraska. From my understanding, Turkey Vultures usually soar at high altitudes and most of the time in small groups. Did I just see a Thunderbird or some other large, unknown species?

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Mystery Kangaroo

Charles Wetzel, at the age of 70, was at his Platte River cabin, near Grand Island, Nebraska, on the 28th of July, 1958, when he observed a mystery kangaroo that was seen but never caught. Wetzel was operating a brewery in Grand Island at the time of his sighting. He was so obsessed with his bizarre experience, he named one of his brands “Wetzel Kangaroo Beer.” With the arrival of eBay a few years ago, I contacted and talked to beer can and bottle collectors in Nebraska. They have seen the Wetzel beer collectible, they tell me, but it remains absent from my crypto-collection within this special subfield of ritual objects.

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Hammerhead Shark Gave "Virgin Birth" in Omaha Zoo

Stefan Lovgren for National Geographic News   May 24, 2007

A hammerhead shark born in a Nebraska zoo in 2001 was the result of a so-called virgin birth, new DNA evidence shows. The finding marks the first confirmed case of a female shark fertilizing her own eggs and giving birth without sperm from a male, a process known as parthenogenesis.

"We were very surprised to find parthenogenesis in a shark," said Mahmood Shivji, director of the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Florida's Nova Southeastern University.  "It has been found in other vertebrates, birds, snakes, reptiles, even some bony fishes, but it has never been described in sharks and rays or in mammals," he added.

Shivji is the co-author of a study detailing the findings that was published yesterday in the journal Biology Letters.

Shark Mystery

The baby bonnethead shark, a type of hammerhead, was born at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska. It was killed within hours of its birth by a stingray in the same tank. Scientists were able to match the baby's DNA with one of three potential mothers in the tank.  But none of these females had had any contact with a male for more than three years.  Scientists at first believed the birth had come about as a result of a female shark's well-documented ability to store sperm for months.  "But that assumed the mother had actually copulated in the wild when she was a baby," before being taken to the tank in 1998, Shivji said. "That was not likely." Previous studies had also shown that sharks are able to store sperm for only about five months.

The virgin birth was confirmed when an analysis of the baby shark's DNA found that it contained no paternal genetic material. "That nailed down the fact that this was a case of parthenogenesis," Shivji said. "The female's eggs had developed into a fully formed, live [shark] without actually being fertilized by a male."