marbled crayfish

“Marmorkrebs” is an informal name given to marbled crayfish that were discovered by hobbyists in Germany in the late 1990s.

Photo from Marmorkrebs.org

This is a story about crawfish that can "clone" themselves -- and we're not sure how we feel about it, pending a taste test.

The Atlantic reports about a crawfish species called "marbled crayfish," popular as pets in Europe, that can reproduce without a "father" crawfish.

When first confirmed in the 1990s, scientists were astonished to see female crawfish's eggs grow into copies of their “mother” — a process known as parthenogenesis.

Experts are studying the ecological ramifications of the species, which is proving to be aggressive invaders. The species has shown up in the wild in Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Sweden, Japan, and Madagascar, the report says, but not yet in North America. The European Union and some U.S. states have banned them.

“We’re being invaded by an army of clones,” says Zen Faulkes, a crustacean researcher at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley who keeps a map of marbled crayfish invasions.

Frank Lyko of the German Cancer Research Center, has studied the marbled crayfish and their unusual genetic code. He says a graduate student at his institute found marbled crayfish in a lake near her family’s house, and they threw some on the grill.

“I tried other crayfish once,” he says. “I didn’t like them so much to be frank, so I’m not in a rush to eat marbled crayfish.”

See the full The Atlantic report here.