It sounds like the plot for one of those old sci-fi movies, but this global takeover by a mutant 10-legged creature is really happening.
As reported by the New York Times, Frank Lyko, a German cancer research biologist, has been studying marbled crayfish for some time.
You’re probably asking yourself what a cancer research doctor is doing studying a 6-inch-long crustacean, but his study could actually unveil a strategy for eradicating a similar cloning monster: cancer.
According to Science Mag, Jean-François Flot, a genomicist working with the Free University of Brussels said, “In many ways, the invasive expansion of [the marbled crayfish] is analogous to a cancerous lineage spreading asexually at the expense of its host.”
The marbled crayfish is the only known decapod crustacean that can successfully reproduce asexually. The all-female species makes clones of itself from eggs that have never been fertilized by sperm.
With the rapid expansion of the marbled crayfish spreading across much of Europe, and adding the fact that they produce only fertile offspring, it appears nothing will stop this sex-free species from taking over the world.
However, experts believe this is not the case . . . scientists say there are many advantages to producing asexually, but in the long run, it will likely be the species downfall.
See, when a species like the marbled crayfish clones itself, necessary genes aren’t shared that are critical for fighting off diseases. The NY Times puts it like this:
“If a pathogen evolves a way to attack one clone, its strategy will succeed on every clone. Sexually reproducing species mix their genes together into new combinations, increasing their odds of developing a defense.”