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L. osseus

   

L. platostomus

      L. platostomus

    Family Lepisosteidae

  • Genus Atractosteus Rafinesque, 1820
    • Atractosteus africanus (Arambourg & Joleaud,

      The largest member of the gar family, the alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula), can measure up to 10 feet long and weigh over 300 pounds.[25][26] Its body and snout are wide and stocky, and it was named "alligator gar" because locals often mistook it for an alligator.[25][27] The species can be found in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, the Mississippi River, Ohio, the Missouri river, and the southern drainages into Mexico.[26][27] Its habitat consists of lakes and bays with slow currents.[26] The gars grow rapidly when young and continue to grow at a slower rate after reaching adulthood.[28] They are deep green or yellow in color.[26][27] Recreational fishing of the alligator gar became popular due to its massive size and its meat is sold for food.[29] Over five decades of overfishing have brought it close to extinction,[27][28] and man-made dams have contributed to this loss by restricting the gar's access to the flood plain areas in which it spawns.[29] Some U.S. states have enacted laws to combat overfishing, and reintroduction programs are being carried out in some states, such as Illinois, where human activity has driven the gar to extinction.[27][28] Before being released, each gar must meet a length requirement to ensure that it has the best chance of survival in the wild.[30] Some states, such as Texas, restrict the number of gar that may be caught in a day, the season in which they may be caught, and the equipment anglers may use to catch them. Some states also impose a minimum length requirement to prevent gar from being caught at too early an age.[31] Scientists have found that the alligator gar can help maintain ecosystem balance by eating invasive species such as the Asian carp, and their success in a particular area can show scientists that area may also make a suitable habitat for other migratory species.[32]

      Florida gar

      Lepisosteus platyrhincus

      The Florida gar (Lepisosteus platyrhincus) can be found in the Ocklockonee river, Florida, and Georgia,[33][34] and prefers muddy or sandy bottoms with bountiful vegetation.[33][35] It is commonly confused with its cousin, the spotted gar.[33] Uneven black spots cover its head, body, and fins.[33][34] Green-brown scales run along the back of its body, and the scales on its underbelly are white or yellow.[33][36] This coloration, which blends well with the gar's surroundings, allows it to ambush its prey.[33][36] The Florida gar has no ganoid scales on its throat.[33] Female Florida gars grow to lengths between 13 and 34 inches, bigger than their male counterparts.[33][36]

      Spotted gar

      Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus oculatus)

      The spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus) is a smaller species of gar,[25] measuring just under four feet long and weighing 15 pounds on average.[25] Like Florida gars, fe

      The Florida gar (Lepisosteus platyrhincus) can be found in the Ocklockonee river, Florida, and Georgia,[33][34] and prefers muddy or sandy bottoms with bountiful vegetation.[33][35] It is commonly confused with its cousin, the spotted gar.[33] Uneven black spots cover its head, body, and fins.[33][34] Green-brown scales run along the back of its body, and the scales on its underbelly are white or yellow.[33][36] This coloration, which blends well with the gar's surroundings, allows it to ambush its prey.[33][36] The Florida gar has no ganoid scales on its throat.[33] Female Florida gars grow to lengths between 13 and 34 inches, bigger than their male counterparts.[33][36]

      Spotted gar

      Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus oculatus)

      The spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus) is a smaller species of gar,[25] measuring just under four feet long and weighing 15 pounds on average.[25] Like Florida gars, female spotted gars are typically larger than male spotted gars.[37] This gar has dark spots covering its head, body, and fins.[25] Its body is compact, and it has a shorter snout.[25] It prefers to live in clearer shallow water with a depth of 3–5 meters,[32] and to surround itself in foliage.[35][37] Its habitat ranges from the waters of Lake Michigan, the Lake Erie Basin, the Mississippi River System, and river drainages along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico from the Nueces River in Texas east to the lower Apalachicola River in Florida.[37][38] It shares its habitat with the alligator gar, its main predator. These smaller gar live an average of 18 years.[37]

      Shortnose gar

      Sh

      The shortnose gar (Lepisosteus platostomus) is found in the Mississippi River Basin, Indiana, Wisconsin, Montana, Alabama, and Louisiana.[39] It prefers to live in lakes, swamps, and calm pools.[35][39] The shortnose gar takes its name from its snout, which is shorter and broader than that of other gar species.[25][39] Like the longnose gar, it has one row of teeth. The upper jaw is longer than the rest of its head.[39] The shortnose gar is deep green or brown in color, similar to the alligator gar.[25][39] Depending on the clarity of water, spots can be present on the caudal, dorsal, and anal fins.[39] The shortnose gar has a lifespan of 20 years, reaches up to 5 pounds in weight,[40] and grows to lengths of 24-35 inches.[38][40] It consumes more invertebrates than any other gar,[39] and their stomachs have been found to contain higher Asian carp content than any other native North American fish.[32]

      Longnose gar

      Longnose Gar (Lepisosteus osseus)

      The Longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus) has a longer, narrower, more cylindrical body,[25][41] and can be distinguished from other species of gar by its snout, which is more than twice the length of the rest of its head.[42][43] It can reach up to 6 feet and 8 inches in length and weigh up to 35-80 pounds.[25][42] Like the shortnose gar, it has only a single row of teeth.[42][43] Unlike its relatives, it enters brackish water from time to time.[35][42] Females are larger and live longer than the male longnose gar.[41][42] Females living 22 years, and males about half as long.[42] There are spots on the head, dorsal, anal, and caudal fins.[25][42][44] Depending on the water clarity, the longnose gar comes in two colors.[42] In clear water, they're a dark deep green color. In muddy waters, it's more brown in color.[42] Edges of the ganoid scales and in between are black.[42][44] These types of gar are occasionally fished by locals, and blamed for eating other fish in the rivers.[41][42] The longnose gar has a large range of territory in North America, into the Gulf of Mexico.[42][44] Located in Florida, Quebec, all Great Lakes except Lake Superior, Missouri, Mississippi, Texas, and northern Mexico.[42][45]

      Roe

      The flesh of gar is edible, but its eggs contain an ichthyotoxin, a type of protein toxin which is highly toxic to humans.[46][47] The protein can be denatured when brought to a temperature of 120 degrees Celsius,[48] but as the roe's temperature does not typically reach that level when it is cooked, even cooked roe causes severe symptoms. It was once thought that the production of the toxin in gar roe was an evolutionary adaptation to provide protection for the eggs, but bluegills and chann

      The flesh of gar is edible, but its eggs contain an ichthyotoxin, a type of protein toxin which is highly toxic to humans.[46][47] The protein can be denatured when brought to a temperature of 120 degrees Celsius,[48] but as the roe's temperature does not typically reach that level when it is cooked, even cooked roe causes severe symptoms. It was once thought that the production of the toxin in gar roe was an evolutionary adaptation to provide protection for the eggs, but bluegills and channel catfish fed gar eggs in experiments remained healthy, even though they are the natural predators of the gar eggs. Crayfish fed the roe were not immune to the toxin, and most died. The roe's toxicities to humans and crayfish may be coincidences, however, and not the result of explicit natural selection.[46]

      [21] The hard ganoid scales of gars are sometimes used to make jewelry whereas the tough skin is used to make such items as lamp shades. Historically, Native Americans used gar scales as arrowheads, native Caribbeans used the skin for breastplates, and early American pioneers covered the blades of their plows with gar skin.[49] Not much is known about the precise function of the gar in Native American religion and culture other than the ritual "garfish dances" that have been performed by Creek and Chickasaw tribes.[50]

      References

      1. ^ a b Paulo M. Brito; Jésus Alvarado-Ortega; François J. Meunier (2017). "Earliest known lepisosteoid extends the range of anatomically modern gars to the Late Jurassic". Scientific Reports. 7 (1): Article number 17830. Bibcode: