This Week In Science: Christ the Magician and Virgin Births!


A team of scientists led by renowned French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio recently announced that they have found a bowl, dating to between the late 2nd century B.C. and the early 1st century A.D., that is engraved with what they believe could be the world’s first known reference to Christ.

If the word “Christ” refers to the Biblical Jesus Christ, as is speculated, then the discovery may provide evidence that Christianity and paganism at times intertwined in the ancient world.

The full engraving on the bowl reads, “DIA CHRSTOU O GOISTAIS,” which has been interpreted by the excavation team to mean either, “by Christ the magician” or, “the magician by Christ.”

In a study reported Friday in the Journal of Fish Biology, scientists said DNA testing proved that a pup carried by a female blacktip shark in a Virginia aquarium contained no genetic material from a male.

The medical mystery began 16 months ago after the death of Tidbit, a blacktip shark that had lived for eight years at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach. No male blacktip sharks were present during her eight years.

In May 2007, the 5-foot, 94-pound shark died after it was given a sedative before undergoing a yearly checkup. The 10-inch shark pup was found during a necropsy, surprising aquarium officials. They initially thought the embryonic pup was either the product of a virgin birth or a cross between the blacktip and a male of another shark species — which has never been documented, Chapman said.

Tidbit’s pup was nearly full term, and likely would have been quickly eaten by “really big sand tiger sharks” that were in the tank, Chapman said in a telephone interview from Florida.

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