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The glassy appearance of the scales of this spotted gar is due to ganoine.
The mineral texture of alligator gar scales consists of bundles of cross-plied hydroxyapatite minerals oriented towards the scale's surface.

Ganoine or ganoin is a glassy, often multi-layered mineralized tissue that covers the scales, cranial bones and fin rays in some non-teleost ray-finned fishes,[1] such as gars, bichirs, and coelacanths.[2] It is composed of rod-like, pseudoprismatic apatite crystallites, with less than 5% of organic matter.[3] Existing fish groups featuring ganoin are bichirs and gars, but ganoin is also characteristic of several extinct taxa.[4] It is a characteristic component of ganoid scales.

Ganoine is an ancient feature of ray-finned fishes, being found for example on the scales of stem group actinopteryigian Cheirolepis.[4] While often considered a synapomorphic character of ray-finned fishes, ganoine or ganoine-like tissues are also found on the extinct acanthodii.[4]

It has been suggested that ganoine is homologous to tooth enamel in vertebrates[1] or even considered a type of enamel.[3] Ganoine indeed contains amelogenin-like proteins[1] and has a mineral content similar to that of tetrapod tooth enamel.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Zylberberg, L.; Sire, J. -Y.; Nanci, A. (1997). "Immunodetection of amelogenin-like proteins in the ganoine of experimentally regenerating scales of Calamoichthys calabaricus, a primitive actinopterygian fish". The Anatomical Record. 249 (1): 86–95. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-0185(199709)249:1<86::AID-AR11>3.0.CO;2-X. PMID 9294653.
  2. ^ Sire, Jean-Yves; Donoghue, Philip C. J.; Vickaryous, Matthews K. "Origin and evolution of the integumentary skeleton in non-tetrapod vertebrates". Journal of Anatomy. 214 (4): 409–440. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7580.2009.01046.x. ISSN 0021-8782. PMC 2736117. PMID 19422423.
  3. ^ a b Bruet, B. J. F.; Song, J.; Boyce, M. C.; Ortiz, C. (2008). "Materials design principles of ancient fish armour". Nature Materials. 7 (9): 748–756. Bibcode:2008NatMa...7..748B. doi:10.1038/nmat2231. PMID 18660814.
  4. ^ a b c Richter, M. (1995). "A microstructural study of the ganoine tissue of selected lower vertebrates". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 114 (2): 173–212. doi:10.1006/zjls.1995.0023.
  5. ^ Ørvig, T. (1967). "Phylogeny of tooth tissues: Evolution of some calcified tissues in early vertebrates.". Structural and Chemical Organization of Teeth. New York: Academic Press. pp. 45–110.