Weird facts about alligators and crocodiles
People today suffer from many misconceptions about our friends the alligator and the crocodile. Typically taken as deceptively quick and effective predators both on land and in the water, these creatures of the order Crocodila are misunderstood and … um, yeah, we couldn’t really pull that one off. The truth is that, though the alligator is said to be noticeably less aggressive than its evolutionary cousin (like it matters), each of these beasties is quite the killer, best studied from a respectful distance, likesay the other side of the continent.
Fearsomeness aside – or perhaps because of it – alligators and crocodiles hold endless fascination for our own ultra-curious species. To this end and from the aforementioned respectable distance, MarkMLucas.com presents the following 16 or so interesting/weird facts about alligators and crocodiles.
What are the main apparent differences between alligators and crocodiles?
As is rapidly becoming common knowledge, the alligator and crocodile may most easily be distinguished by the shape of the snout: the alligator’s is U-shaped, while the croc’s is V-shaped. If you’re trying to identify by this distinction in the wild, you may be a tad too close to the action, though….
In addition, crocodiles cannot ever conceal most of its teeth at any time while alligators have mouths that can close over the teeth.
Are the alligator and crocodile “living dinosaurs”?
The modern American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is about 37 million years old; today’s extant crocodile species are descended from an ancestor who last walked the earth as far back as 55 million years ago when the species diverged from others within the order Crocodilia.
So yes, both animals are quite ancient. To be fairly pedantic, however, MarkMLucas.com would point out that since the extinction level event meteorite hit Earth some 10 million years prior to the crocodile’s emergence, these animals might be better described as the survivors of or inheritors to the dinosaur’s extermination.
Can crocodiles live in salt water?
Another key distinction between gators and crocs is the latter’s ability to thrive in salty, brackish or even freshwater. In fact, crocodiles have an active “salt gland” which acts as filtration for sodium in water, and the evolutionary adaptation of alligators to a freshwater environment has resulted in the atrophy of this gland.
How many species of alligators and crocodiles are there?
Only two species of alligator exist: the American Alligator resides in America’s Gulf Coast waters. The Chinese Alligator (Alligator sinesis) is native to – you guessed it – China.
The crocodile boasts some 14 species and all live in tropical-climate waters. Five crocodile species are currently listed as critically endangered: the Cuban crocodile, Orinoco crocodile, Philippine crocodile, Siamese crocodile and Indian gharial.
Where do American alligators live?
Florida and Louisiana are home to at least 1 million alligators each, in total more than 75% of all American alligators. In most locations, the American alligator coexists with crocodile species.
How many teeth can an alligator have?
Like the shark, the alligator constantly grows new teeth throughout its life, and a long-lived gator can end its life with 3,000 or so teeth. This positively gnarly set of grinders was proven to generate nearly 3,000 pounds’ worth of pressure on its intensely unfortunate prey.
What pro sports teams have alligator or crocodile mascots?
In teams of sports team mascots, stunningly few teams of note beyond the University of Florida Gators have been named for this fearsome badasses of the animal kingdom. Probably no. 2 on a prestige level would be the Australian rules football club Southern District Crocs.
Crocodilia-lovers (Crocodiliphiles?) may also wish to pour one out for the Australian National Basketball League (NBL) club Townsville Crocodiles (1993-2016) and/or the American independent Frontier League team Canton Crocodiles (1997-2001)
While a paucity of such mascots may exist in our universe, we know of at least one alternate universe in which a Major League Baseball team takes up the reptilian reptile as mascot: Namely, the unnamed Florida-based 2015 American League champion of Back to the Future II.