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Creation 43(1):17, January 2021

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Startling Sturddlefish



“I did a double-take when I saw it,” exclaimed 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.”1

What caused this shock?2 Hungarian scientists producing real hybrids (some 200 in all) between an American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula) and a Russian sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii).3 One reason for the surprise is that these are not just different genera, but different families (Polyodontidae and Acipenseridae) in the same suborder Acipenseroidei.

The scientists were actually trying to coax the endangered sturgeon to produce offspring by stimulating its eggs with sperm from the paddlefish, without introducing paternal DNA. They were hoping to induce gynogenesis, where only female offspring are produced asexually (from Greek gynē = woman). But paternal DNA was introduced after all, i.e. true fertilization.

The hybrid form has been named ‘sturddlefish’. But normally, hybrid names have the father first, so it should really be called something like ‘paddlegeon’.

Hybrids undermine long-age dogma

These families that gave rise to the sturddlefish were supposed to have separated 184 million years ago, and they now live on separate continents. After such eons, the changing order of genes on chromosomes would mean that the genes from each parent don’t line up. So any embryo would end up with different genes in different cells, so could not develop. So interbreeding would be impossible. This is one more reason to doubt the claimed evolutionary timeframes. In turn, this is yet another reason to doubt evolution itself.

Created kinds vs species

Genesis 1 tells us 10 times that God created plants and animals to reproduce “after their kind”—not evolve into different kinds. As creationists realized even before Darwin, these kinds have diversified into different varieties and even species. According to one definition, if two creatures can bear fertile offspring, then they are members of one ‘biological species’. One definition of ‘created kind’ is if any two creatures can produce any hybrid, or can hybridize with any third creature, then they are part of the same created kind.

This means the original kind would originally have been a single biological species. But today, it is usually larger, a genus or even family. If two species within different genera of the same family hybridize (as in cats4), it means the created kind is at the family level. These new ‘paddlegeons’, hybrids between different families, show that the created kind in this case is at least as high as the suborder.

If any of these hybrids turn out to be fertile, then sturgeons and American paddlefish would be members of the same polytypic biological species, by definition. At present, we don’t know whether they are fertile, but they seem to be able to survive just as well as the parents.

We have previously written about Kekaimalu the wholphin.5 This is a hybrid between the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens). Kekaimalu is fertile—she had babies of her own. This shows that these so-called different genera are the same polytypic biological species. Thus the created kind here is as high as the family (Delphinidae). Hybrids between different families are very rare, although a number are known in birds.6

Posted on homepage: 20 December 2021

References and notes

  1. Roth, A. Scientists accidentally bred the fish version of a liger, New York Times, 15 Jul 2020. Return to text.
  2. Casella, C., Scientists accidentally bred a bizarre hybrid of two endangered fish; sciencealert.com, 19 Jul 2020. Return to text.
  3. Kály, J. and 12 others, Hybridization of Russian sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii, Brandt and Ratzeberg, 1833) and American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula, Walbaum 1792) and evaluation of their progeny, Genes 11(7):753, 6 Jul 2020. Return to text.
  4. Catchpoole, D., Cats big and small, Creation 37(4):34–37, 2015. Return to text.
  5. Batten, D., Ligers and Wholphins? What next? Creation 22(3):28–33, 2000. Return to text.
  6. Lightner, J.K., Identification of a large sparrow-finch monobaramin in perching birds (Aves: Passeriformes), J. Creation 24(3):117–121, 2010. Return to text.

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