Scientists Accidentally Create ‘Impossible’ Hybrid FrankenFish

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(Credit: Genes 2020, 11(7), 753;, CC BY 4.0)

It shouldn’t have been possible, but it happened: The birth of long-nosed, spiky-finned hybrids of Russian sturgeons and American paddlefish.

Hungarian scientists announced in May in the journal Genes that they had accidentally created a hybrid of the two endangered species, which they have dubbed the “sturddlefish.” There are about 100 of the hybrids in captivity now, but scientists have no plans to create more.

“We never wanted to play around with hybridization. It was absolutely unintentional,” Attila Mozsár, a senior research fellow at the Research Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Hungary, told The New York Times.

Researchers were trying to breed Russian sturgeon in captivity through a process called gynogenesis, a type of asexual reproduction. In gynogenesis, a sperm triggers an egg’s development but fails to fuse to the egg’s nucleus. That means its DNA is not part of the resulting offspring, which develop solely from maternal DNA. The researchers were using American paddlefish sperm for the process, but something unexpected happened. The sperm and egg fused, resulting in offspring with both sturgeon and paddlefish genes.

The resulting sturddlefish hatched by the hundreds, and about 100 survive now, according to the Times.

Science is crazy!