Are sturgeons dinosaurs?

Answered by Michael Wilson

Sturgeons are a fascinating group of fish that have a long and ancient history. While they may not be dinosaurs themselves, they do belong to a lineage of fishes that coexisted with dinosaurs. Sturgeons are members of the Family Acipenseridae, which also includes paddlefishes. This family of fishes diverged from other fishes at least 200 million years ago in the early Jurassic period.

The fact that sturgeons and paddlefishes have been around for so long is truly remarkable. It speaks to their incredible adaptability and success as a group. These fishes have survived through multiple mass extinctions and have persisted to the present day.

One of the most distinctive features of sturgeons is their long, slender bodies and their rows of bony plates, known as scutes, along their sides. These scutes serve as a form of armor, protecting the fish from predators. Sturgeons also have a unique cartilaginous skeleton, which sets them apart from most other bony fishes.

Sturgeons are primarily freshwater fish, although some species are known to enter brackish and marine environments. They are typically found in rivers and lakes, where they feed on a variety of organisms, including small fish, insects, and crustaceans.

Interestingly, sturgeons are also well-known for their unique reproductive behavior. They are considered to be anadromous, meaning they migrate from the ocean into freshwater rivers to spawn. Female sturgeons can produce thousands of eggs during a single spawning event, and these eggs are fertilized externally by the males. The survival rate of sturgeon offspring is relatively low, but those that do survive can live for many years, with some species reaching ages of over 100 years.

Sadly, sturgeons are also facing numerous threats and challenges today. Overfishing, habitat loss, and pollution have severely impacted their populations. Some sturgeon species are now critically endangered, and conservation efforts are underway to protect and restore their habitats.

While sturgeons are not dinosaurs themselves, they are members of an ancient lineage of fishes that coexisted with dinosaurs. Their long evolutionary history and unique characteristics make them a truly fascinating group of fish. Understanding and conserving these remarkable creatures is important for preserving the biodiversity of our planet.