Sturgeons are the most primitive and distinctive fishes found in the freshwaters of New York. They are large fish and have five rows of bony plates along their body. These scales and the plates on their heads and opercula are sculpted. In addition to their distinctive shape, their backbone extends into the upper lobe of their tail and they have barbels on the underside of their snout. Sturgeons are found in Asia, Europe and North America and several species are anadromous. Their distribution in New York is confined to the largest rivers and lakes. The largest species in the state is anadromous; one species is estuarine; the third species is strictly a freshwater form. All are native to the state and they are rare, although only two species are protected.