Lake sturgeon, an ancient fish native to the Great Lakes region, can grow to be more than six feet long, 200 pounds, and live more than 100 years. This “dinosaur fish” has teetered on the brink of extinction since the late 19th century. But in Wisconsin, careful management over the last 100 years has allowed one population to thrive. According to fossil records, lake sturgeon have been on Earth for at least 150 million years and their biology has remained essentially unchanged. Several of their features harken back to the early evolution of fish. Their skeletons are made of cartilage and their backbones are notochords, a precursor to the spine of most fish caught for food. Sturgeon’s tail fins are shark-like in appearance and their bodies are covered in five rows of pinched cartilage called scutes.
Learn more about this ancient survivor as a librarian and two ichthyologists dissect a juvenile specimen and then test your knowledge with our activity sheet.
Access the Explore Lake Sturgeon Challenge activity sheet as a Google doc.
Looking to explore further?
- Visit our sturgeon story map
- Check out a digital art + science exhibit
- How the WDNR manages the fishery
- Description from National Geographic
- US Fish and Wildlife Service
Looking for more Great Lakes at Home fun? See our distance learning page.