The alligator gar, Atractosteus spatula, is a primitive ray-finned fish. Its also referred to as the gator gar. Unlike other gars, the mature alligator gar possesses a dual row of large teeth in the upper jaw. These remarkably alligator-like teeth, along with its snout, give it its name. The dorsal surface of the alligator gar is a brown or olive-color, while the ventral surface tends to be a lighter color. Their scales are diamond-shaped and interlocking (ganoid) and are sometimes used by Native Americans for jewelry.
Also unlike other gars, the alligator gar is capable of breathing air and can survive up to two hours above water.
The alligator gar is the largest species of gar and is the largest exclusively freshwater fish in North America. It can be as long as eight to twelve feet and often weighs at least 100 pounds at maturity. The current world record alligator gar weighed 279 pounds and was caught in the Rio Grande River in 1951. Even larger alligator gars — over 300 pounds — have been caught by trotliners.
Alligator gar are found in the southeastern United States: Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, and in Paris, Illinois in the Twin Lakes area. They have also been known occasionally to come as far north as central Kansas, off the Republican River and up into Clarks Creek. They inhabit sluggish pools and backwaters or large rivers, bayous, and lakes. They are rarely found in brackish or saltwater, but are more adaptable to the latter than are other gars. In February 2007, a 1.5-foot alligator gar was found roaming far in the city of Jakarta, Indonesia, when the city was hit by a major flood (see External Links below). In January 2008, a 3-kg gator gar was found by fishermen in Bera, Pahang (East Coast State of Malaysia), when it was caught entangled in a fishing net.
Alligator gar have also been known to attack humans in some very rare cases..
Based on Wiley's work, after 1976 the gars were officially split into Lepisosteus and Atractosteus, and ever since then zoos, aquarium books, anglers, and so on have been gradually catching up with the proper terminology.
The fish is popular amongst bowfishers because of its size and tendency to brawl. An interesting anatomical feature of this fish is that its buoyancy bladder is directly connected to its throat, giving it the ability to draw in air from above the water. For this reason, alligator gar are often found near the surface of a body of water, making them an easy target for bowfishers.
Alligator gar? 'This is good eating': As fisheries struggle to return to normal, some in Louisiana are making a buck off a lowly fish, writes Tim Jones. On the menu: Gar balls, gar steaks, gar stew. Bon appetit.
Feb 04, 2007; Byline: Tim Jones Feb. 4--TRIUMPH, La. -- This is no ordinary fish tale, no beer-soaked, back-porch bloviation about the whopper...