Hungarian researchers were studying another biological process when they ended up creating a hybrid of American paddlefish and Russian sturgeon. The animal was called sturddlefish.
Researchers at the National Agricultural Research and Innovation Centre in Hungary accidentally created a new type of fish: a hybrid of American paddlefish and Russian sturgeon that was called sturddlefish. The discovery was shared in early July in the journal Genes.
In the article, the scientists explain that they were not trying to create a new type of fish, but to perform gynogenesis – a type of asexual reproduction – with the animals’ reproductive cells.
In the process, eggs of a certain species are developed without the active interference of the male genetic material.
To the team’s surprise, however, the eggs produced hybrid offspring of the two species, and they even managed to survive into adulthood.
“I did a double-take when I saw it,” said Solomon David, an aquatic ecologist at Nicholls State University in Louisiana, United States, who was not involved in the research, in an interview with The New York Times. “I just didn’t believe it. I thought, hybridization between sturgeon and paddlefish? There’s no way.”
Currently, scientists have about 100 specimens still alive that can be divided into three categories: those most similar to the paddlefish, those most similar to the sturgeon, and those that have inherited characteristics of both species equally.
The creation of hybrids is not encouraged by science, because, although there are successful cases in which hybrids manage to live normally, such as the mule (a combination of donkey and horse), the risks of something going wrong and the animal end up suffering are high.
“We never wanted to play around with hybridization. It was absolutely unintentional,” said Attila Mozsár, co-author of the study and senior researcher at the Research Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Hungary, in an interview with The New York Times. They do not intend to create new offspring of the animal.