The Yangtze River in China is home to over 4,000 species of aquatic wildlife. For years, the river deteriorated due to overfishing, pollution, and water traffic, heavily affecting the marine life there, including the Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius). The prehistoric fish has lived in the river since the age of the dinosaurs. While studies suggest that it was most diverse and widespread 34 to 75 million years ago, fossil evidence showed that it already existed 200 million years ago.
|Credits: All That's Interesting|
Since the 1950s, the species suffered. By 1996, the Chinese paddlefish was listed on the critically endangered species list. One of the huge factors for their declining number was the construction of the first dam on the Yangtze River. The Chinese government started launching conservation efforts to save the species. By the early 2000s, the researchers were unable to find enough fish in the wild to study. In 2003, a team from China’s fishery sciences academy was able to capture a Chinese paddlefish. They attached an ultrasonic tracker to it, but eventually lost the tracker’s signal.
|Credits: The Vintage News|
A recent report based on an evaluation made by an expert panel under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) revealed that the Chinese paddlefish is now extinct. This comes after a team of Chinese scientists partnered with researchers from the Czech Academy of Sciences and the University of Kent in the UK. They successfully identified 332 fish species living in the river but not a single Chinese paddlefish was found. According to All That’s Interesting, a site for curious people who want to know more about what they see on the news or read in history books, the report was conducted to create an exhaustive database of the river’s species.
|Credits: Christian Science Monitor|
“We respect the evaluation model and experts from the IUCN, although we accept this result with a heavy heart,” Wei Qiwei, the study’s co-author from the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences in Wuhan, said.