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Prehistoric Fish Getting 2nd Chance In Illinois

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The carcass of an alligator gar rests along the shore at the edge of a small pool of red sludge-like water at the base of the dam at O.C. Fisher Lake on July 25, 2011 in San Angelo, Texas. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The carcass of an alligator gar rests along the shore at the edge of a small pool of red sludge-like water at the base of the dam at O.C. Fisher Lake on July 25, 2011 in San Angelo, Texas. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A fearsome fish whose roots date back 120 million years is getting a second chance in Illinois waterways.

The alligator gar had been found as far north as Beardstown within the past century. But the last known catch was in 1966 in Cairo and Illinois officials declared in 1994 that it no longer swam state rivers.

The Springfield State Journal Register reports Sunday that’s changed in recent years with efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce the predator that has inhabited the Mississippi River for three million years.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources introduced 650 of them into the Little Sangamon River and Crane Lake earlier this month.

Their name comes from long snouts and sharp teeth. The predators and can grow to 200 pounds.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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