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The Chinese Paddlefish Is Now Extinct

The Chinese Paddlefish Is Now Extinct
The Chinese paddlefish, Psephurus gladius, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The species have not been seen since 2003

OT Staff
February 10 , 2020
01 Min Read

Imagine surviving the mass extinction that killed the dinosaurs, only to lose your life to humans. Owing to human activities, the Chinese paddlefish, one of the world’s largest fish that have been around for 200 million years, have not been spotted since 2003. The species could reach up to 23 feet in length and have a special sword-like snout which helps them catch their prey by sensing electrical activity.

A paper published in the Science of The Total Environment estimates the time of extinction to be around 2005-2010. However, the species became functionally extinct, i.e. could not reproduce by 1993.

A graphic abstract of the research paper

The fish was a common species in the Yangtze river, but their population has drastically declined since the late 1970s as a result of overfishing and habitat fragmentation, according to the paper. A basin-wide survey was carried out in 2017-18 that found 332 fish species but not a single specimen of the Chinese paddlefish. During the period of 1981-2003, 210 sightings of the Chinese paddlefish were found, and hence the time of extinction can be placed at 2005.

Apart from that, 140 highly endangered species were also absent in the basin survey.

“As no individuals exist in captivity, and no living tissues are conserved for potential resurrection, the fish should be considered extinct according to the IUCN Red List criteria. The delayed extinction of Chinese paddlefish resulted from multiple threats, suggesting that optimizing conservation efforts on endangered Yangtze fauna is urgently needed,” quoted the paper.


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