Portal:Fish/Selected fish/3

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American Paddlefish, Polyodon spathula

Paddlefish (family Polyodontidae) are primitive Chondrostian ray-finned fishes. The paddlefish can be distinguished by its large mouth and its elongated snout called a rostrum (bill). These spatula-like snouts comprise half the length of their entire body. There are only two extant species of these fish: the Chinese and the American paddlefish. These fish are not closely related to sharks, but they do have some body parts that resemble those of sharks such as their skeletons, primarily composed of cartilage, and deeply forked heterocercal tail fins. Paddlefish are one of the oldest fish known to man. Fossil records show that they first appeared 300 to 400 million years ago (50 million years before dinosaurs). In some areas, paddlefish are referred to as "Spoonbill", "Spoonies" or "Spoonbill Catfish".