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The Difference in Crocodiles & Alligators. Kelsey Pruitt. Alligators are Crocodiles?. All alligators are crocodiles, but not all crocodiles are alligators. Sound confusing? It's really not once you look at the taxonomy. Crocodylia.

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The Difference in Crocodiles & Alligators

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The Difference in Crocodiles & Alligators

Kelsey Pruitt


Alligators are Crocodiles?

  • All alligators are crocodiles, but not all crocodiles are alligators. Sound confusing? It's really not once you look at the taxonomy.


Crocodylia

  • Both alligators and crocodiles are members of the reptilian order Crocodylia. But the families they belong to, Alligatoridae and Crocodylidae respectively, differ. Often, when people use the word "crocodile" what they really mean is "crocodilian."

- All told, there are 23 species of crocodilians.


  • Crocodiles and alligators are top of the line hunters and will eat just about anything they can get their teeth on, from fish and turtles to monkeys and buffalo. With teeth specialized just for spearing, neither family even bothers to chew its food, they swallow large chunks or the entire animal whole.


Snout Differences

  • In terms of physical differences, observing the snout , the mouth and nose, is one of the simplest ways to distinguish between a crocodile and an alligator. Crocodiles have long, narrow, V-shaped snouts, while those of alligators are wider and U-shaped. These differences are indicative of the type of diet that each species favors. The wide snout of the alligator packs more crushing power, making it easier to secure prey such as turtles. By contrast, the narrow snout of the crocodile is suited for fish as well as small mammals.


Jaw Differences

  • The jaws found on a typical crocodile and an alligator are also different. The upper and lower jaws of the crocodile are essentially the same width, with the teeth exposed in an interlocking pattern. They also have a large, protruding fourth tooth on the lower jaw that is accommodated by depressions in the upper jaw just behind the nostrils. The alligator, however, has a wider upper jaw, allowing the lower teeth to fit into it snugly, effectively hiding them from view. Only the teeth of the upper jaw are exposed along the lower jaw line.


Location & Habitat

  • Crocodiles and alligators are also found in different locations around the globe. Both crocodiles and alligators do well in environments that feature slow moving rivers with grasslands located adjacent to the river banks.

  • Crocodiles live in parts of North, Central, and South America, and can be found in areas of Africa, Australia, and the southeast part of Asia. Alligators are native in the eastern section of China and the southern area of the United States, and are most common in states along the Gulf Coast. The lingual salt glands in crocodiles allows them to be more at home in salt water than alligators.


Facts

  • Differences are mainly featured around the skeleton & body.

  • Crocodiles have salt glands on their tongues.

  • An alligator cannot move its tongue, and must raise its head to swallow.

  • To hatch, baby alligators use their egg tooth (at the tip of their jaw) to break the egg.


More Facts

  • American alligators have nostrils that face upward, which allows them to breathe when the rest of them is submerged underwater

  • The alligator derives its name from the Spanish "el lagarto," which means lizard.

  • Alligators use their tails to construct what are known as "gator holes" to retain water during periods of drought.

  • Belgrade Zoo in Serbia boasts an alligator, named Mujo, that is 76 years old, believed to be the oldest alligator in captivity.

  • In order to dive deeper, Crocodiles swallow stones.

  • A mother crocodile can carry her young in a pouch inside her mouth.


See Ya Later Alligator!

After While Crocodile!


Sources

  • http://earthjustice.org/irreplaceable/american_crocodile?gclid=CPvV5IyW4q8CFQSxnQodqEjPXg

  • http://www.mcwdn.org/Animals/AliCroc.html

  • http://www.essortment.com/difference-between-alligators-crocodiles-61417.html

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocodile


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