General Information Product 72
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Sturgeons and paddlefishes are modern descendants of an ancient group of freshwater fishes, the Chondrostei (a group of bony fishes with mostly cartilaginous skeletons). Sturgeons evolved during the Age of the Dinosaurs, and have prospered in the large rivers and lakes of North America, Europe and Asia for 200 million years. Together with alligators and crocodiles, they survived the mass extinction at the end of the Mesozoic Era, when the dinosaurs and many other groups of animals disappeared forever. They originated prior to the creation of the Atlantic Ocean, when the Northern Hemisphere supercontinent Pangea broke into North America and Eurasia. Most sturgeons are highly specialized to feed in the sediment on small invertebrate prey, a radical evolutionary departure from most of their fish-eating ancestors.
Sulak, K.J., and Randall, M., 2009, The Gulf Sturgeon in the Suwannee RiverQuestions and Answers: U.S. Geological Survey General Information Product 72, 12 p.
Ken Sulak or Michael Randall
U.S. Geological Survey
Coastal Ecology & Conservation Research Group
Florida Integrated Science Center
7920 NW 71st Street
Gainesville, FL 32653
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