Animal of the Month: Mottled sculpin

• Species: Mottled sculpin.

• Scientific name: Cottus bairdi.

• Nicknames: None.

• Claim to fame: The mottled sculpin is one of Missouri’s lesser-known fish. Though their large heads and bulging eyes may not win any beauty contests, people who monitor streams and rivers enjoy finding them. That’s because sculpins thrive in clear, clean water and are a sign of good water quality. Sculpins are also food sources for a several sportfish species.mottled sculpin - 30

• Species status: The mottled sculpin appears to primarily inhabit the central portion of Missouri; notably the Niangua River system, a few adjacent tributaries of the Lake of the Ozarks and streams further east. Though it’s presumed mottled sculpin numbers are relatively stable in the state, the fish’s reliance on clean water makes its situation always somewhat precarious.

• First discovered: The first scientific description of the mottled sculpin was written in 1850 by the French-American naturalist Charles Frederic Girard. In addition to his scientific work, Girard secured and supplied surgical and medical supplies to the Confederacy during the Civil War. During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), Girard served as a military physician for France and published a pioneering paper on typhoid fever following the siege of Paris.

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