RE: NANFA-- chinese paddlefish

Hoover, Jan J ERDC-EL-MS (
Wed, 3 Apr 2002 11:18:23 -0600

>>>Artificial propagation appears to be the only hope for preventing its
extinction, but it has yet (1997) to be successfully bred in captivity. [I
know that some American paddlefish culturists are helping Chinese
scientists. Jan, do you know more about this?]<<<

This is off the top of my head -

I have spoken with only one paddlefish biologist who has personally worked
with the Chinese. He have me the impression that some of the interest in
learning about North American paddlefish cultivation was due to an interest
in establishing North American paddlefish in Chinese rivers.

I have copies of several of his photographs of Psephurus. They show a fish
that is more streamlined than Polyodon, with a pointed, wedge-shaped rostrum
(very thick at its base). The form of the Chinese paddlefish is closer to
the prehistoric paddlefishes than our own more-derived North American
species. My understanding is that the prehistoric paddlefishes,like the
Chinese paddlefish (and unlike the North American species), had cuniform
rostra, protrusible jaws (like a sturgeon), and fewer/shorter gill rakers
(they were believed to be piscivores). The extinction of the Chinese
paddlefish would constitute the loss of a true "living fossil."

At least one report on the Chinese paddlefish indicated sizes larger than 3
m but this was attributable to a translation mistake of measurement units.
One of the photos I have, however, shows a specimen on what appears to be a
hospital gurney - the fish extends well beyond both ends of the gurney and
a human hand at the edge of view suggests that the fish may be larger than 3

I will contact the biologist and see if he would like to comment on the
Chinese paddlefish.

Esoteric footnote - I have a late 19th century book on China called "The
Middle Kingdom" - it has a short paragraph on the Chinese paddlefish (which
it calls a sturgeon) and describes its predatory feeding behavior as a
sit-and-wait type of strategy. If there is still interest in the topic next
week (and someone wants to remind me), I will send it in a subsequent
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