You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Massive crayfish that didn't exist 25 years ago are capable of cloning themselves — and it's terrifying scientists

Business Insider logo Business Insider 2/6/2018 Ashley Lutz


Video by Wochit News

A crayfish that is capable of cloning itself is taking over Europe — and scientists are taking note. 

The marbled crayfish has a mutation that allows it to clone itself, reports Carl Zimmer at The New York Times. Zimmer profiled scientists studying the all-female species known for its massive size, which "simply did not exist" 25 years ago. 

The crayfish first became popular with aquarium owners because of their size and ability to lay copious amounts of eggs. 

"As marmorkrebs became more popular, owners grew increasingly puzzled. The crayfish seemed to be laying eggs without mating," Zimmer writes. 

marbled crayfish © Provided by Business Insider marbled crayfish Scientists soon discovered the genomic mutation, which has allowed the species to number in the millions. Zimmer does a great job of explaining how that works.

While the crayfish have never been seen in the wild in America, they are popular among hobbyists. They're banned in Missouri and Tennessee. The European Union also banned the species from being produced, distributed, or released in the wild.

Madagascar, where the crayfish are thriving, has become concerned about the size of the population. "There are a lot of clear advantages to being a clone," Zimmer writes. "Marbled crayfish produce nothing but fertile offspring, allowing their populations to explode." 

It's unclear how long the population will be able to thrive. 

People on Twitter were freaking out about the discovery. 

NOW WATCH: What happens to your body when you start exercising regularly


More from Business Insider

Business Insider
Business Insider
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon