China mourns fish scientists say is extinct
BEIJING — The Chinese paddlefish’s sharp, protruding snout made it one of the largest freshwater species in the world. Since scientists declared it extinct in a research paper published this month, Chinese internet users and media outlets have been paying tribute to the hefty creature.
“It’s farewell at first sight,” said China Youth Daily, noting that many were lamentably unfamiliar with the paddlefish before learning of its demise. Users shared similar sentiments on the Twitter-like
So named for its distinctive shape, the Chinese paddlefish, or Chinese swordfish, had a lineage dating back at least 34 million years, scientists believe.
It could grow as long as 23 feet, but in the end, it couldn’t survive the overfishing, habitat fragmentation and loss of biodiversity in its native Yangtze River, according to a research paper in the Science of The Total Environment, a peerreviewed environmental science journal.
“As no individuals exist in captivity, and no living tissues are conserved for potential resurrection, the fish should be considered extinct,” the paper said, pointing to criteria for inclusion on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.
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.