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2 families • 6 genera • 32 species/subspecies

Family ACIPENSERIDAE Sturgeons
4 genera · 30 species/subspecies


Acipenser Linnaeus 1758    Latin for sturgeon, derived from akis, point; pente, five, referring to five rows of body scutes

Acipenser baerii baerii Brandt 1869     patronym not identified but probably in honor of Karl Ernst von Baer (1792-1876), Baltic-German Russian biologist

Acipenser baerii baicalensis Nikolskii 1896    ensis, suffix denoting place: Lake Baikal, Siberia, type locality

Acipenser baerii stenorhynchus Nikolskii 1896    stenos, narrow; rhynchus, snout, referring to pointed snout compared to blunt snout of A. b. baerii

Acipenser brevirostrum Lesueur 1818    brevis, short; rostrum, nose, referring to shorter snout compared to A. oxyrinchus

Acipenser colchicus Marti 1940    icus, belonging to: Colchis, ancient name for eastern coast of Black Sea in Eurasian Georgia, type locality

Acipenser dabryanus Duméril 1869    -anus, belonging to: Pierre Dabry de Thiersant, fish culturist, French counsel to China, and student of Chinese fishes, who collected type

Acipenser fulvescens Rafinesque 1817    fulvous, yellowish-brown; –escens, becoming, referring to olive-brown coloration on upper half of body

Acipenser gueldenstaedtii gueldenstaedtii Brandt & Ratzeburg 1833    in honor of Johann Anton Güldenstädt (1745-1781), Baltic-German naturalist and explorer, who identified this sturgeon in 1772 but used a non-Linnaean name (Sturio)

Acipenser gueldenstaedtii marsiglii Brandt 1833    in honor of Luigi Ferdinando Marsigli (1658-1730), Italian solider and naturalist, who identified this sturgeon in 1726 but used a pre-Linnaean name (Antaceus glaber)

Acipenser medirostris Ayres 1854    media, moderate or middle; rostris, snout, referring to size compared to specimens of A. transmontanus Ayres examined, San Francisco Bay, California, USA

Acipenser mikadoi Hilgendorf 1892    patronym not identified but likely in honor of the “mikado” or emperor of Japan (Hilgendorf lectured at Tokyo College of Medicine from 1873-1876 and described this sturgeon from one he saw at a fish market)

Acipenser naccarii Bonaparte 1836    in honor of philosopher, librarian and natural history professor Fortunato Luigi Naccari (1793-1860)

Acipenser nudiventris Lovetsky 1828    nudus, bare; ventris, belly, referring to seeming absence of ventral scutes, which are totally absorbed in large adults

Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus Mitchell 1815    oxy, sharp; rhynchus, snout, referring to sharply V-shaped snout

Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi Vladykov 1955    in honor of Hernando (misspelled Fernando) de Soto (ca. 1496-1542), conquistador who explored the Gulf of Mexico and was first European to see the Mississippi River

Acipenser persicus Borodin 1897    Persian, referring to type locality in Caspian Sea, Iran

Acipenser ruthenus Linnaeus 1758    us, adjectival suffix: from Ruthenia, historic name for Ukraine and/or Belarus, probably referring to distribution in eastern Europe

Acipenser schrenckii Brandt 1869    patronym not identified but almost certainly in honor of Leopold von Schrenck (1826-1894), Baltic German Russian zoologist, geographer and ethnographer

Acipenser sinensis Gray 1835    ensis, suffix denoting place: Sinica (China), referring to  distribution in Yangtze and Pearl River basins

Acipenser stellatus Pallas 1771    starry, referring to stellated marks and tubercles on head

Acipenser sturio Linnaeus 1758    Latin for sturgeon

Acipenser transmontanus Richardson 1836    trans-, over; montanus, mountains, i.e., found on western side of North America’s Continental Divide


Scaphirhynchus Heckel 1836    scapho-, shovel; rhynchus, snout, referring to flat, shovel-shaped snout

Scaphirhynchus albus (Forbes & Richardson 1905)    white, referring to pallid coloration

Scaphirhynchus platorhynchus (Rafinesque 1820)    platy, broad; rhynchus, snout, referring to flat, shovel-shaped snout

Scaphirhynchus suttkusi Williams & Clemmer 1991    in honor of Royal D. Suttkus (1929-2009), noted authority on fishes of the southeastern USA and mentor to many ichthyologists


Pseudoscaphirhynchus Nikolskii 1900   pseudo-, false, i.e., although this genus may superficially resemble Scaphirhynchus, and all three species previously assigned to it, such an appearance is false

Pseudoscaphirhynchus fedtschenkoi (Kessler 1872)    in honor of Russian naturalist and explorer Alexei Pavlovich Fedtschenko (1844-1873), who collected type

Pseudoscaphirhynchus hermanni (Kessler 1877)    in honor of Hermann (forename not given), a ship officer (presumably on the Aralo-Caspian Expedition), who delivered sturgeon to zoologist and explorer Nikolai Severtsov (1827-1885), who coined the name in a presumably unpublished paper

Pseudoscaphirhynchus kaufmanni (Kessler 1877)    in honor of “Lord” Kaufman for the “professional help” (translation) he gave zoologist Modest Nikolaevich Bogdanov, who named the sturgeon in 1874 but did not provide distinguishing features; “Lord” Kaufman is almost certainly Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufmann (1818-1882, also spelled Kaufman), first Governor-General of Turkestan, who commissioned the scientific exploration of the land after it became part of the Russian Empire in the 1860s

Subfamily HUSINAE

Huso Brandt & Ratzeburg 1833    tautonymous with Acipenser huso; Medieval Latin and Old High German for sturgeon

Huso dauricus (Georgi 1775)    icus, belonging to: Daourie, obsolete term applied to area of central Asia southeast of Lake Baikal to about 120˚E, roughly the range of this sturgeon in Amur River basin of Russia and China

Huso huso (Linnaeus 1758)     Medieval Latin and Old High German for sturgeon

Family POLYODONTIDAE Paddlefishes

Polyodon Lacepède 1797    poly, many; odon, tooth, referring to many teeth compared to no teeth in Acipenser [note: only juvenile Polyodon have teeth and type is a small specimen; name does not allude to numerous gill rakers as reported by many authors]

Polyodon spathula (Walbaum 1792)    spatula, referring to paddle-shaped rostrum

Psephurus Günther 1873    psephos, pebble; oura, tail, allusion not evident, possibly referring to heavy dorsal caudal fulcra in adults

Psephurus gladius (Martens 1862)    sword, referring to long sword-like rostrum