At first glance, American paddlefish and Russian sturgeon seem about as different as two fish can be.The Russian sturgeon, whose eggs are used to make top-shelf caviar, is a carnivore that hoovers crustaceans and smaller fish off the floor of rivers, lakes and coastal areas the world over.
The American paddlefish, found in only 22 of the United States, is a filter feeder that strains zooplankton from the water. It has a comically long snout covered with tens of thousands of sensory receptors.
Yet somehow, when sperm from an American paddlefish and eggs from a Russian sturgeon were combined in a lab, life found a way and a hybrid of the two species was born.“I did a double-take when I saw it,” said Solomon David, an aquatic ecologist at Nicholls State University in Louisiana. “I just didn’t believe it. I thought, hybridization between sturgeon and paddlefish? There’s no way.”