Chinese Paddlefish Extinction: Man Does What Mass Extinction Could Not!

A Chinese paddlefish specimen made in 1990 is seen on display at the Museum of Hydrobiological Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Wuhan, China. The Chinese paddlefish's sharp, protruding snout made it one of the largest freshwater species in the world. (Museum of Hydrobiological Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences via AP)

The Chinese Paddlefish, Which Lived for 200 Million Years, Is Now Extinct

By Lily Katzman/

China’s Yangtze River, the world’s third longest river, is home to 378 known species of fish. But the Chinese paddlefish, once a common freshwater fish in the region, is no longer a member of this vast ecosystem. After over a decade of searching, researchers say the species completely disappeared between 2005 and 2010, with the last confirmed sighting in 2003.

According to a recent study in the journal Science of the Total Environment led by Hui Zhang of the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences in Wuhan, China, overfishing and dam construction drove the roughly 200-million-year-old species to extinction. “It’s very sad,” Zeb Hogan, a fish biologist at the University of Nevada, Reno, tells Douglas Main of National Geographic. “It’s a definitive loss of a very unique and extraordinary animal, with no hope of recovery.”

The Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius), also known as the Chinese swordfish and sometimes called the “panda of the Yangtze,” was one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. It could grow as long as 23 feet (7 meters) and weigh up to 992 pounds (450 kilograms), Eric Cheung reports for CNN. Only a few freshwater fish can grow bigger, such as the Mekong giant catfish, sturgeon and alligator gar.

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  1. The Chinese are all eaters! Everything with fins and legs is edible, except tables and chairs!
    They disregard everything just for the catch, whatever in the net, and by whatever means! Big and small!
    If only China practices the EU fishery controls and ENFORCES IT, this Chinese paddlefish will still be there for future generations!

  2. Because humans can so profoundly change the environment, we are therefore charged with being stewards for the benefit of all creatures. We are failing, and failing badly, in this responsibility.

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