; superorder Chondrostei, order Acipenseriformes)
A family of large, fairly sluggish, bottom-feeding fish that have a low-slung mouth, toothless jaws, four barbels in front of the upper jaw, and rows of large plates along the body. They are found in Europe, Asia, and N. America. Most of the 26 species are marine but ascend rivers to spawn. A few species, e.g. the sterlet (Acipenser ruthenus), live wholly in fresh water. Sturgeons are very fertile. The processed roe of ripe female common sturgeon (Acipenser sturio) and beluga (Huso huso) is renowned as caviar (the most valuable caviar is from the beluga).
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.