A marbled crayfish with a mutant DNA has spawned hundreds of self-cloning crustacean copies of itself in a historic cemetery in Belgium.
The Schoonselhof cemetery in Belgium’s Antwerp city has been invaded by hundreds of marbled crayfish which have taken-up the pools, streams and other water bodies around the grounds and have wreaked havoc in the historic cemetery.
The marbled crayfish is not an evolved creature but is believed to have been experimentally created by pet traders in the early 1990s in Germany.
They may have experienced a mutation around 25 years ago that allows them to clone itself through parthenogenesis, a form of asexual reproduction, which gives them the ability to reproduce without mating. Due to this mutation process, all the offspring are born female and are genetically identical. Such bizarre characteristics might have made it easy for the marbled crayfish invasion in Antwerp.
According to the Flemish Institute for Nature and Woodland Research (INBO), the crustacean’s have infested every pond, stream and other available water bodies in the cemetery, destroying the natural balance and posing a great threat to the biodiversity of other species, the Brussels Times reported.
Kevin Scheers of the Flemish Institute for Nature and Woodland Research said, “It’s impossible to round them up, given their vast numbers that have invaded the cemetery and it is like trying to empty the ocean with a thimble.”
The experts are worried that the super invasive crustacean creatures possess voracious appetites and will eat anything they can get their claws on. The tiny creatures can feed on snails, plants and other small amphibians which will deprive the local aquatic life of its food sources.
They also believe that the latest invasion might have started with one of the crayfish either set free in a canal or escaped from someone’s home. Crayfish are a no-fuss and are extremely easy to breed, which makes them a favourite among the pet collectors.