A fish that is "black as tar, has armoured scales and a mouth full of teeth" had biologists scratching their heads after it was caught in a river.
The beast, a picture of which was shared by Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, was caught in the Choctawhatchee River, 100miles northwest of Tallahassee, US.
“What’s black as tar, has armoured scales and a mouth full of teeth?” the institute asked in a June 22 Facebook post.
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The fish is a longnose gar, which are typically a “tan-olive color, with brown spots” – but this one had a rare abnormality, hence the confusion.
“A melanistic longnose gar,” the post went on, revealing that the fish had an increased amount of black or nearly black pigmentation.
“Melanism is an abnormal extent of dark coloration in the skin, scales, fur, or feathers of animals and is characterised by excessive deposits of melanin,” the institute explained.
“It’s relatively rare in animals and is not seen often by biologists.”
The fish was released back into the river after being examined, officials said.
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Flkeynews.com wrote that the beast is a "primitive fish straight out of a Jurassic Park movie", making reference to its lineage which is believed to stretch back “about 100 million years”, according to the National Park Service.
They are long (3ft) and thin, with scales “as hard as tooth enamel”, teeth as sharp as needles and eggs that are toxic. They are also capable of living “more than 24 hours completely out of the water”, the park service says.
“It waits until the prey is in range then lunges and thrashes its head from side to side, impaling its prey. The gar then manoeuvres the prey in order to swallow it head first”, the National Park Service reports.
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