Ompax spatuloides, a hoax, was thought to be a unique type of fish found near the Burnett River in Queensland, Australia. Presuming (for the purpose of this question) its reality, it has generic piscine proportions, most closely resembling a mullet. However, its medial fins, including the caudal fin, are like an eel, forming a short, continuous band from the back and belly to the tapered tip of the tail. Its paired fins are flipper-like, and all four of them at the base of the body, one pair at the throat and the other pair on the chest. Its eyes are small, perched high on its head, and it has a broad soft beak like a platypus. It also has toxic flesh

What niche would such a fish best occupy?


2 Answers 2


The high eyes and flipper-like limbs at the base of the body remind me of the mudskipper. The duckbill seems to imply digging for prey in a soft substrate such as a riverbank, while the mudskipper characteristics suggest an intertidal habitat. The eel-like characteristic almost suggests burrowing, but I'll suppose that the fish has adapted it somehow to move quickly in muddy environments. The toxic flesh could simply be a matter of withstanding and concentrating environmental toxins.

All told, I'm going to suggest the fish is part of an ecosystem that has arisen after a few thousands of years of use of pumped-storage hydroelectricity. A static culture has been using a sacrificial reservoir that rises and falls many meters each day to smooth out its power needs for a very long time. Over this time, algae and green plants have adapted to coat the sides of the reservoir in a slimy biofilm that preserves moisture throughout the pumping cycle, and numerous crustaceans have come to graze on these irregular reservoir banks. Your fish is a predator of those organisms. Accumulated radioactivity from the power plants has protected it from most predatory birds, and as a result the main threat to these fish is the risk of being shouldered aside while the food is consumed as the water rises. They compete to leap, slither, and climb up steep portions of the reservoir and be the first to graze.


It is a paddlefish.



The paddlefish are an ancient lineage of cartilaginous freshwater fish. The American paddlefish has a ducklike snout which is a electrosensory organ. These are large filter feeders living in murky water, with tiny eyes.


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