Psephurus gladius (Martens, 1862)

Chinese paddlefish, Chinese swordfish, Sword-billed sturgeon, yin yui wei, chin yui



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Polyodon gladius Martens, 1862; Spatularia (Polyodon) angustifolium Kaup, 1862:278


Conservation Status


Last record: 2003 (Yibin, Sichuan Province) (wild)1; 2004 (captivity) (source)

IUCN RedList status: Extinct


The Chinese paddlefish is considered to be functionally extinct. Officially, the last sighting was on the 24th of January, 2003. But it is known that an individual was caught on January 8th, 2007, by illegal fisherman and died shortly thereafter despite an attempt to keep it alive.


1 My thanks to The Sixth Extinction Forum (TSEF) member "ya" (Sue) from China, who pointed out that the reported illegally caught specimen in Hubei Province in 2007 actually refers to a Chinese sturgeon (Acipenser sinensis). Due to a translation error.



China (including Qiantang River, Yangtze River, Yangjian River, Yellow River and Yellow Sea)


Biology & Ecology










Original scientific description:

Martens, E. (1862). Über einien neuen Polyodon (P. gladius) aus dem Yangtsekiang und über die sogenannten Glaspolypen. Monatsberichte Deutsch. Akad. Wiss. Berl. 476-479. 


Other references:

Anonymous (ed.). (1976). Fishes of the Yangtze River. Fishes Study Lab, Institute of Hydrobiology of Hubei Province, Science Press, Beijing, (in Chinese)

Anonymous. (1988). The biology of sturgeons and paddlefish in the Yangtze and their artificial propagation [in Chinese]. Sichuan Scientific and Technical Publishing House, Chengdu, China.

Bemis, W. E, Findeis, E. K. and Grande, L. (1997). An overview of Acipenseriformes. Environ. Biol. Fish. 48: 25-71.

Birstein, V. J. (1993). Sturgeons and paddlefishes: threatened fishes in need of conservation. Conserv. Biol. 7: 773-787.

Chen, X., Wang, M. and Zhang, E. (2022). Updated species checklist of fishes from Lake Dongting in Hunan Province, South China: Species diversity and conservation. ZooKeys 1108: 51-88.

del Monte-Luna, Pablo et al. (2023). A review of recent and future marine extinctions. Cambridge Prisms: Extinction 1: e13.

Deng, Z., Yu, Z., Zhao, Y. and Deng, X. (1987). Evaluation of impact of Three Gorges project on Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) and Chinese sucker (Myxocyprinus asiaticus) and study of resources conservation. In: Leading team of study programs of ecology and environment of Three Gorges project, Chinese Academy of Sciences (ed) Transactions of studies for impact of Changjiang Three Gorges project on ecology, environment and countermeasures. Science Press, Beijing, pp 42–51, (in Chinese)

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Kaup, 1862:278 (Arch. Naturgeschichte, 28 (1): 278-281).

Li, S. Z. (1965). Discussion on the ichthyofauna in Yellow River. Chinese J. Zool. 7: 217-222.

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