It almost sounds like the plot for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Scientist accidentally create a mutant fish from the time of the dinosaurs. Well, it is not actually a mutant. Just a hybrid, but still pretty bizarre. Two fish species that are currently swimming in Montana waters, have been around for millions of years. I'm talking about sturgeon and paddlefish. Both species are from the late cretaceous period. And, thanks to millions of years of evolution, their genetics are so closely related. But, no one ever thought that the two species could make hybrids. UNTIL NOW.
Instead, they made a Frankenfish.
The initial goal of the study was to encourage the critically endangered sturgeon to reproduce asexually. That isn't quite how it went.
The Russian sturgeon, instead, hybridized with the American paddlefish, the first time the two have ever hybridized successfully in captivity. The paddlefish was originally meant to provide sperm -- not its DNA -- to help the sturgeon reproduce on its own.
They call the creation a "sturddlefish." They mostly look like sturgeon. But with a longer nose or bill, like a paddlefish. And they also have smoother ridges to their backs. Instead of large ridges, like a sturgeon woulds have.
Even in Montana, sturgeon and paddlefish are sought after for caviar. Buyers line the banks of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers offering to buy the eggs from successful anglers. According to Montana FWP "The retail price of bulk paddlefish caviar has jumped from around $80 a pound a decade ago to more than $300 a pound this year. A single ripe female contains eggs that, when prepared properly for conversion into caviar, sell for over $1,000."
But, dont worry about any crazy mutant dinosaur fish in Montana waters. The "Sturddlefish" are safely being kept in a research facility in Hungary.
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