The latest accidental invention from the world of science is the Sturddlefish, a laboratory-created cross between an American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) and a Russian sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii).
On the surface, the parent units form an unlikely pair. For one thing, they are not exactly neighbors – as the name suggests, the sturgeon comes from Russia and the surrounding area, and the paddle fish is found throughout the Mississippi River Valley in the USA. Their diets also differ; The carnivorous sturgeon hunts for crustaceans and small fish along the lake and river beds, while the paddle fish holds on to filter zooplankton out of the water.
But they have some things in common. How The New York Times Paddlefish and sturgeon are reported to be large, slow-growing, long-life freshwater fish species. And both are considered “fossil fish”
Scientists from the Hungarian Research Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture have worked to breed the two species in captivity to strengthen the dwindling populations in the wild. Last year, they used an asexual reproductive process called Gynogenesis, which requires sperm to be present but not using DNA from it.
Only this time a researcher mistakenly gave paddlefish sperm to sturgeon eggs. Scientists soon greeted hundreds of jumping baby hybrid fish with their mother’s preference for meat eating and various combinations of their parents’ physical characteristics. A study of the hybrid was published in the July issue of the magazine Genes.
“We never wanted to mess around with hybridization,” said Dr. Attila Mozsár, senior research fellow at the institute and co-author of the study The New York Times. “It was absolutely unintentional.”
About 100 Sturddlefish are still living in the laboratory, but the researchers are not planning to breed any more. If the fish are sterile like many other hybrids, they cannot produce caviar, for which Russian sturgeons are mainly valued. In addition, the introduction of a new hybrid into the wild could threaten existing species.
Sturddlefish, liger and mules are not the only unusual animal hybrids – learn more about polar bears, wolves and more here.
[h/t The New York Times]