Scientists have declared a giant fish that had survived for 150 million years is now extinct.
Named after its distinctive shape, experts believe the giant Chinese paddlefish has been wiped out because it could not survive over-fishing, habitat fragmentation and loss of biodiversity.
Research published this week in the Science of The Total Environment journal says the giant freshwater species - also known as the Chinese swordfish - should be “considered extinct”.
The paper said: “As no individuals exist in captivity, and no living tissues are conserved for potential resurrection, the fish should be considered extinct.”
Chinese paddlefish populations have declined drastically since the late 1970s - with the decline also corresponding with a major dam construction in the their native habitat River Yangtze.
Chinese internet users and media outlets have been paying tribute to the large animal, which is characterised by its sharp, protruding snout.
“It’s farewell at first sight,” said China Youth Daily, noting that many were lamentably unfamiliar with the paddlefish before learning of its demise.
The researchers estimate that the fish became extinct some time between 2005 and 2010.
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Pan Wenjing, a forest and oceans manager for Greenpeace East Asia, commented: “The extinction of the paddlefish is a huge loss and reflects the critical status of the Yangtze River ecosystem. The ecology of the Yangtze River is close to collapse due to human activity in past decades.
“China has launched its campaign trying to recover the Yangtze River’s environment, and some ambitious policies have been introduced, such as the 10-year ban on fishing activity.”