My Scientific Name
By the Numbers
How to Identify Me
I have a broad or wide, short snout, and a very large body. I am dark olive-brown becoming whitish toward my belly. I am covered with ganoid scales, which are thick overlapping scales, and I have two rows of teeth on my upper jaw.
Why I Matter and What's Been Happening
People used to make arrowheads, jewelry and tools from my scales. My skin made a durable leather for many purposes, and my oils were used as an insect repellent. The construction of dams along the Mississippi River eliminated a lot of the floodplain habitat (side channels and backwater areas connected to rivers) that I need for spawning and young fish need to grow. We also were overfished because of a mistaken belief that with our toothy appearance and large size, we ate a lot of the other fish that people liked to eat. There was a major effort to get rid of us in the early 1950s.
We once were pretty abundant, but are now difficult to find. People are working together to restore more of our rivers, and raise me in hatcheries to stock me back out in our rivers.