The Garfish is a great example of a living fossil that has been in North American waters for the last 50 Million Years! It is almost unchanged since the days that it lived in those prehistoric swamps. This primitive fish has been able to survive all that time.
It has a long and slender body with a long snout. Its long jaws have needle like teeth. They have hard diamond-shaped scales that form an interlocking armored body. It has a rounded tail fin, plus the anal and dorsal fins are placed far back on its body.
It is a fresh water fish that lays its adhesive eggs in shallow water. It eats insects and fish.
They live in sluggish waters, backwaters, rivers, swamps and lakes. All Gars have an air bladder that acts like a primitive lung. This enables them to breathe air out of the atmosphere and to live in poorly oxygenated water.
Some Gar can reach lengths of 10 ft. and weigh well over 200 lbs.
It is generally a sluggish fish that holds still while waiting for prey.
Fossil Gar Scales are known as far back as the Cretaceous Period, about 110 Million Years ago. Fossil Scales are found all over Florida. Good examples are the ones from the Pliocene Deposits of Sarasota County, Florida, dating back 2-3 Million Years ago.
Atractosteus lapidosteus species, is an extinct gar found in Vero, Florida and named by O.P. Hay. It may be the same as the living species today - Atractosteus spatula.
Another variety of gar in the fossil record of Florida is the Longnose Gar - Lepisosteus osseus.
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