The American Paddlefish was first seen in the sixteenth century by Europeans when Hernando De Soto explored the Mississippi River.  The American Paddlefish has sometimes been called a spoonbill, spoonbill cat, or shovelnose cat because some people have mistaken the American Paddlefish as being a member of the Catfish family.  It is interesting that the young Paddlefish have teeth, but the adults do not have teeth, yet they both still feed on the same prey.  Paddlefish are the oldest surviving animal species in North America at 300 million years!  The actual size of the smallest known American Paddlefish is 11/16 of an inch long.  The North American record for the largest Paddlefish weighed 144 pounds from Dam No. 7 in Kansas caught in 2004.  The other only remaining member of the Polyodontidae Family is the Chinese Paddlefish, Psephurus gladius, is in even more risk of extinction on the other side of the world in the Yangtze River.

Figure 15.  Head-on view of a Paddlefish.

            People should find the American Paddlefish interesting for many reasons.  One reason is the American Paddlefish's paddle-like rostrum; its rostrum is unique compared to the typical fish that comes to mind when people envision a fish.  This organism does not have any scales on its body except for a little on its tail.  Another reason why people would find this particular fish species interesting is because it is a primitive fish that lived more than 300 million years ago, a time even before the dinosaurs!  A third reason why other people might find the American Paddlefish interesting is because it is a species that is at risk of being extinct.


I told you the facts would be interesting!  Feel free to look at my References!


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