‘An Army of Clones’: This Invasive Crayfish Can Self-Clone for Almost Unlimited Copies

What’s going on?

Scientists are fascinated and horrified by a species of crayfish that doesn’t need a mother and a father for eggs to be fertilized. Marbled crayfish can clone themselves: The mother crayfish’s eggs grow into copies of her through parthenogenesis.

“Every single one has the ability to reproduce. Every single one could start a new population,” crustacean researcher Zen Faulkes told The Atlantic.

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Stu and Glenn talked about this bizarre science story on today’s show.

Should we be prepared for an invasion?

Maybe not yet, but it doesn’t hurt to be on the lookout! A German aquarium owner first alerted scientists to the existence of the marbled crayfish when he noticed that some “Texas crayfish” he’d purchased were mysteriously filling up the tank.

The marbled crayfish has spread across Europe in recent years and is threatening native crayfish in Madagascar. Just one can produce hundreds of eggs at a time.

Yikes … do we know why this happened?

It’s still a mystery. For the first time, scientists have learned more through sequencing the DNA of the marbled crayfish – of 11 marbled crayfish, to be exact. They were all clones, the progeny of one single crayfish that inexplicably reproduced by self-replicating. Scientists also discovered that the marbled crayfish is triploid, which means that it has three sets of chromosomes.