Artifact Spotlight — Alligator Gar Scales

Kristi Nichols, Director of Archaeology, Collections and Historical Research
December 5, 2019
Diamond shapes alligator gar scales
Approx. Date of Artifact: Unknown

During 2019 excavations of the Long Barrack and Church, evidence of the many animals that were used for food sources have been found throughout the occupation of the site. The excavation units have produced these alligator gar scales, which archaeologists have found at many sites located along the river in San Antonio, as other bodies of freshwater throughout the state.

Fish with a long body, a long snout, and a rounded dorsal fin
A picture of an Alligator Gar, Source: TPWD Website.

The alligator gar is a type of freshwater fish that is characterized by a long body, a long snout, and a rounded dorsal fin. The body is covered with interlocking diamond shaped scales. These fish can grow up to 8 ft in length, and sometimes weight more than 300 pounds. The alligator gar can have a long life span, with the largest specimens could potentially live up to 100 years of not caught.

These scales could represent an alligator gar that was caught and possibly eaten by inhabitants.