A fish story that goes back millions of years: Kansas fisherman lands huge alligator gar

This is a real big fish tale: A fisherman in Kansas tossed a line in the water and caught a prehistoric predator fish that dates back nearly 100 million years.

Danny “Butch” Smith II of Oswego, Kansas, who landed the fish, a 4-foot, 6-inch alligator gar, weighing 39.5 pounds, knew he had caught something unusual. His fishing buddy identified the fish and said, “They ain’t supposed to be here (in Kansas),” Smith said.

Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks officials confirmed the identification and are investigating how the fish, called a “living fossil,” got into the Neosho River in southeast Kansas, east of the city of Parsons.

They have snouts that resemble American alligators, razor-sharp teeth and can grow beyond 10 feet long and weigh up to 350 pounds, according to NationalGeographic.com. While in prehistoric times, the fish’s predecessors may have lived in Iowa or Kansas, modern alligator gars are found in the lower Mississippi River Valley, from Arkansas and Oklahoma to Florida, Texas and parts of Mexico, the site says. Not harmful to humans, alligator gars eat other fish, crabs, turtles, birds and small mammals.

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Danny Smith II displays a 39.5-pound Alligator Gar, measuring four feet, six inches, which he caught in the Neosho River in southeast Kansas. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks officials say the fish is not native to Kansas and previously have not been documented there.

Smith knew he had hooked something big when he was fishing last month. “I thought I had a pretty decent flathead,” he told USA TODAY.  “But it fought and fought, pretty soon it come plum out of the water. The shape of its head really threw me off.”

Soon the fish doubled back and came to the edge of Smith’s boat and he pulled it in. But once the big fish was in the boat, “he tore the boat up. I was shocked by it,” Smith said.

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