This Mutant Crayfish Clones Itself, And It’s Taking Over Europe

Just when we think we’ve seen it all, our planet reveals newer species that continue to intrigue us. A recent study presented a mutant crayfish that The New York Times is calling “one of the most remarkable species known to science.” The marbled crayfish all share the same gender, female, however, they’re reproducing and cloning on their own, and they are now taking over Europe.

Originating from a single female held in a German aquarium, it was born with the ability to reproduce without the need for its eggs to be fertilized by a male. What’s astonishing is that each egg laid by this species is an exact clone of its mother. Able to reproduce rapidly, they have become out of control ever since they emerged in the wild just 25 years ago.

The mutant crayfish have established their populations in freshwater ecosystems worldwide, from Ukraine to Japan, and even to Madagascar. Scientists who have investigated these species warn about the effect they can potentially have on local wildlife, agriculture, and ecosystems, as they compete with others for their resources. A study conducted by De Gruyter, a scholarly publication, documents the spread of the crayfish over the Czech Republic as “the potentially most dangerous non-indigenous crayfish species spreading in European countries and elsewhere.”

This particular species did not exist anywhere prior to 1995 and is said to be traced back to two slough crayfish that were imported from Florida to Germany, where they began their rapid reproduction and have since been multiplying exponentially all over the globe.

The ten-legged crayfish has been crawling all around Europe, spreading like wildfire, and threatening to devastate the natural life of the local species. Due to their rapid speed of multiplying, it has been tough to track them down. The scary thing is, that they are each an identical genetic clone of one another.  

While most animals receive one chromosome from each parent, this particular species has an extra set, which can reduce the chances of genetic mutation, and help its adaptation to new environments. The crayfish contains a genetic library that it can pick from that will suit the given environment it’s situated in.

What’s more alarming, is that it can survive in any water, and eat just about anything, from rotten plants to insects, and won’t have a hard time adapting anywhere in the world it goes. Beware of this pest of a critter, as it continues to invade the globe.  

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