Scientists discover fish in Houston Ship Channel has evolved to live in polluted waters up to 1,000 times the lethal level

Adaptation is an integral part of any species survival, but rarely does that evolution involve becoming impervious to man-made pollution.

In a new report, researchers chronicle how the Gulf killifish developed an unlikely resistance to massive levels of pollution found in the natural habitat, the Houston Ship Channel.

‘Most species don’t survive radically altered environments,’ corresponding author Andrew Whitehead, a UC Davis professor of environmental toxicology said.

‘By studying the survivors, we get insight into what it takes to be successful. In the case of the killifish, it came down to huge population sizes and luck.’

The secret behind the killifish’s survival, say researchers was the inheritance of genes from another species of the fish that lives almost 1,500 miles away in the Atlantic Ocean.

Humans likely transported the Atlantic killifish through the ballast of a large ship, say researchers.

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