Caviar, the roe of sturgeon, was one of Iran's major export items before the Islamic revolution of 1979. But the consumption of sturgeon was considered forbidden (haram) under Shiite law because under that law only fishes with scales (and their roe) can be eaten, whereas the sturgeon lacked scales. As cans of caviar began piling up in the warehouses, the Iranian government asked a commission of clerics and zoologists to reexamine the matter. They found that the sturgeon does indeed have scales, but that these are of a special ('ganoid') variety. There being no rule as to what shape the scales of a permissible fish must take, the sturgeon was declared permitted (haram), opening the way for renewed exports of Iran's most famous delicacy.

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