Mar 062013

Shovel Fish Rag

Sheet Music , 1908

Most often known as the paddlefish, Polydon Spathula, this cartoonish looking fish also been called Spoonbill cat, Shovelbuild cat, Duck-Bill cat, and Spadefish. It’s an image that evokes mirth.

Hernando de Soto was the first European to describe this prehistoric fish. When he encountered one netted by Indians on the banks of the Mississippi River in 1541, he was near the end of his long quest for gold and silver in the New World. After observing a 150-pound catfish he notes that “there was another fish called the pexe palla [‘spade fish’ in Portuguese]. Its snout was a cubit in length and the tip of its upper lip was shaped like a shovel.”