Fishermen in the Kotovsky district of Russia's Volgograd region have found a bizarre creature. A group of men found a strange animal in the sewage disposal facility. The fish bears some resemblance to a stingray: it has a flat body and broad fins. However, unlike the stingray, the front part of the creature's body looks like a head. Even experienced local fishermen said that they had never seen a creature like that.
The fish does look like a stingray, although in Russian territorial waters stingrays can be found in the Black Sea and in the Sea of Azov. In Russia, they are referred to as 'sea cats.' The stingrays that inhabit the Russian waters are gray and quite large in size. The weight of one sea cat may reach 20 kilos. The found fish hardly has any relation to this species.
"I was told that it is an ancient species of crustacean. It's hard for me to believe that. It's the first time I see such a creature," Natalia Lyubimenko, a specialist for the environmental protection of the local administration said.
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The green monster has been sent for analysis to the Research Institute of Volgograd. Local residents fear that the creature might be dangerous.
"This fish is not dangerous at all. It's a fairy shrimp, which belongs to one of the most primitive groups of contemporary crustaceans. They are usually three or four centimeters in length. They do not have any teeth or chelas. Fairy shrimps avoid currents so they mostly inhabit lakes and ponds. They can be found in the Volgograd region too," a senior specialist of the institute said.
Fairy shrimp (Anostraca) are branchiopods that include brine shrimp. They often appear in vernal pools, pot holes and other ephemeral pools. Although they live in fresh or saltwater, they do not live in oceans or seas. They are well-adapted to living in arid areas where water is present for only part of the year. Their eggs will survive drought for several years and hatch about 30 hours after rains fill the pools where they live. Some eggs may not hatch until going through several wet/dry cycles, ensuring the animals' survival through times that the pools don't last long enough for the shrimp to reproduce. About 200 species are known.
The Western United States (especially California) is home to many species of fairy shrimp, five of which are threatened or endangered. All of them are endemic to the west coast, some found in fewer than a dozen populations in a very small area.
Although most fairy shrimp are small (under ½ inch, 1 cm), the largest species are over 6 inches (15 cm) long and are predatory on other fairy shrimp. The giant fairy shrimp (Branchinecta gigas) is the largest and is found in the playas of California's southern deserts. This species traps the much smaller alkali fairy shrimp (Branchinecta mackini) with its large antennae. In contrast, the newly-discovered giant fairy shrimp Branchinecta raptor from Idaho has modified raptorial phyllopodia, which it uses to stab and puncture its prey.