UNITED NEWS INTERNATIONAL (UNI) — Marbled crayfish might not look like anything special but scientists say they’re one of the most incredible species on the planet.
That’s because they don’t need males to reproduce. Females simply clone themselves to create offspring.
Researchers in Germany sequenced the DNA of marbled crayfish for the first time and published the results Feb. 5 in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
The study found all-female offspring are genetically identical to their mothers and they all descend from a single crayfish that somehow became able to reproduce without help.
These populations — despite not having any males — are thriving in parts of Madagascar, Sweden, Japan and Germany.
In fact, they’re doing so well, that experts see the freshwater creature as a serious invasive threat to native species.
But the creatures may be useful: study authors think the marbled crayfish’s unusual ability to turn genes on and off could help with cancer research.