Oops! Scientists Accidentally Created a New Hybrid Fish

Two sturddlefish siblings from the experiment.
Two sturddlefish siblings from the experiment.
Káldy et al., Genes // CC BY 4.0

The latest accidental invention from the world of science is the sturddlefish, a lab-created cross between an American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) and a Russian sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii).

On the surface, the parental units make an unlikely pair. For one thing, they’re not exactly neighbors—as their names indicate, the sturgeon is native to Russia and its surrounding areas, and the paddlefish is found throughout the Mississippi River Valley in the United States. Their diets differ, too; the carnivorous sturgeon hunts for crustaceans and small fish along lake and river bottoms, while the paddlefish sticks to filtering zooplankton from the water.

But they do have some things in common. As The New York Times reports, paddlefish and sturgeons are both large, slow-growing freshwater fish species with long lifespans. And they’re both considered “fossil fish,” since their lineages date back to the Mesozoic era. They’re also both critically endangered as a result of habitat loss, overfishing, and pollution.

To help bolster the dwindling populations in the wild, scientists at Hungary’s Research Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture have been working to breed the two species in captivity. Last year, they used an asexual reproduction process called gynogenesis, which requires that sperm be present, but doesn’t use DNA from it.

Only this time, a researcher mistakenly gave paddlefish sperm to sturgeon eggs. The scientists soon welcomed hundreds of bouncing baby hybrid fish with their mother’s penchant for meat-eating and various combinations of their parents’ physical attributes. A study of the hybrid was published in the July issue of the journal Genes.

(A) is a Russian sturgeon, (D) is an American paddlefish, and (B) and (C) are two sturddlefish.Káldy et al., Genes // CC BY 4.0

“We never wanted to play around with hybridization,” Dr. Attila Mozsár, a senior research fellow at the institute and co-author of the study, told The New York Times. “It was absolutely unintentional.”

Approximately 100 sturddlefish are still alive in the lab, but the researchers aren’t planning to breed more. If the fish, like many other hybrids, are sterile, they won’t be able to produce any caviar, which is what Russian sturgeons are mainly valued for. Furthermore, the introduction of a new hybrid into the wild could threaten existing species.

Sturddlefish, ligers, and mules aren’t the only offbeat animal hybrids out there—learn about grolar bears, wholphins, and more here.

[h/t The New York Times]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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A Wily Fox With a Passion for Fashion Stole More Than 100 Shoes From a Berlin Neighborhood

The smirk.
The smirk.
Brett Jordan, Unsplash

In Berlin, Germany, a fox has embarked on a crime spree that puts Dora the Explorer’s Swiper completely to shame.

CNN-News18 reports that residents of Zehlendorf, a locality in southeastern Berlin, spent weeks scratching their heads as shoes continued to disappear from their stoops and patios overnight. After posting about the mystery on a neighborhood watch site and reading accounts from various bewildered barefooters, a local named Christian Meyer began to think the thief might be a fox.

He was right. Meyer caught sight of the roguish robber with a mouthful of flip-flop and followed him to a field, where he found more than 100 stolen shoes. The fox appears to have an affinity for Crocs, but the cache also contained sandals, sneakers, a pair of rubber boots, and one black ballet flat, among other footwear. Unfortunately, according to BBC News, Meyer’s own vanished running shoe was nowhere to be seen.

Foxes are known for their playfulness, and it’s not uncommon for one to trot off with an item left unattended in a yard. Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife explains that foxes are drawn to “things that smell good,” which, to a fox, includes dog toys, balls, gardening gloves, and worn shoes. And if your former cat’s backyard gravesite is suddenly empty one day, you can probably blame a fox for that, too; they bury their own food to eat later, so a deceased pet is basically a free meal.

The fate of Zehlendorf’s furriest burglar remains unclear, but The Cut’s Amanda Arnold has a radical idea: that the residents simply let the fox keep what is obviously a well-curated collection.

[h/t CNN-News18]