Bowfin Pictures

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Bowfin Photos Showing This Primitive Fish That Survives Unchanged From The Jurassic Period

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The bowfin, Amia calva, is a primitive fish in the family Amiidae that survives nearly unchanged from the time of the dinosaurs. It can be found in the Mississippi River and in much of North America east of the Mississippi, as well as in Texas. Its preferred habitat is slow moving streams and oxbow lakes. It is considered by many to be a trash fish and not particularly good eating, but some anglers respect it as a good fighting fish. Its eggs are sometimes eaten as caviar.

The bowfin has a long body and a dorsal fin that runs from the middle of the back to the tail. It can reach a meter in length (39.4 in) and weigh up to 8.2 kg (18 lbs). Males usually have a black eye-spot on the caudal peduncle. Both males and females possess a gular plate, which is a bony plate covering the exterior of the lower jaw. Bowfin sometimes gulp air at the surface, which serves to aid in buoyancy and to provide oxygen in oxygen-poor waters. Male bowfin are said to be protective of the eggs they fertilize and even of their fry after they've hatched.

One of the reasons bowfin are not considered good fish to eat is that they accumulate high concentrations of mercury in their flesh. While all predatory fish accumulate some mercury, the bowfin is particularly long lived, so it accumulates more mercury in its lifetime than other comparably sized fish. The North Carolina State Health Director has issued a warning that children and pregnant mothers should never eat bowfin, and that healthy adults should not eat bowfin in excess of two meals a month.

Bowfin are regionally referred to as mudfish, dogfish, grindle, lawyer, cottonfish or tchoupique. The are occasionally mistaken for the invasive Asian species snakehead (family Channidae), which has a similar appearance but is not closely related. The bowfin has a small anal fin, while the anal fin of the snakehead extends half the length of the lower body.

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picture of a bowfin picture of a juvenile bowfin picture of a bowfin picture of a bowfin

Picture of a bowfin, Amia Calva, Florida, USA

Picture #: 048802

Stock photo of a bowfin, Amia Calva, juvenile

Picture #: 092549

Picture of a bowfin, Amia Calva

Picture #: 092550

Picture of a bowfin, Amia calva, a living fossil and the lone survivor of the family Amiidae, Rainbow River, Florida

Picture #: 005804

picture of a Calamopleurus      

Picture of an illustration of Calamopleurus, this relative of the modern bowfin grew to 3 feet. Early Cretaceous, 110 MYA, it inhabited the inland sea covering aester Brazil, prehistoric marine life

Picture #: 093420



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