THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ALLIGATOR AND A CROCODIILE

imagesAll alligators are crocodiles but not all crocodiles are alligators. the truth is both alligators and crocodiles are members ofthe reptilan order Crocolylla. But the families they belong to Allgatoridae and Crocodylidae respectively differ. Often when people use the word “crocodile” what they really mean is “crocodilian”. This term incompasses not just the common alligators and crocodiles  you might already know but also the lesser known gavialidae family that contains the lone gaval or gharial. All told there are 23 species of crocodilians.images (4)

Alligators are closely related to crocodiles. Alligators have broad heads and rounded snouts, crocodiles have triangular shaped heads and pointed snouts. Both of the enlarged teeth on each side of the crocodile’s lower jaw are plainly visible when the mouth is closed. In the alligator however these teeth fit into pits in the upper jaw and are not visible when the mouth is closed. As a group crocodilians are pretty impressive animals. Their lineage goes back 240 million years meaning they have outlived the dinosaurs by a good 65 million years. Ideally suited for life in water and on land members of the order can swim up to 20 mph and run up to 11 mph . They are most at home in the water and an hold their breath for up to an hour. Eyes situated atop their heads enable them to keep a lookout for prey .  While their powerful tails swiftly propel them through the water.images (3)

crocodiles and alligators are top notch 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 the food  they swallow large chunks or the entire animal whole.  As if that werenot scary enough crocodillians have incredibly powerful senses to detect their prey. Their eyesight above water is top notch and thanks to vertical pupils that can open up extra wide to let in additional light they also have been night vision. And even though you can’t see their ears don’t be fooled  these smell slits are sensitive enough to hear offspring calling from inside their eggs. Even their sense of smell is highly developed due to special organs in their snouts.images (2)

There are two species of alligators. The American alligator is found from North Carollina south to Florida and west to central Texas.  The Chinese alligator is smaller than the American alligator but otherwise the two species are similar. the calman is a closely related animal. Alligators often dig burrows to live in. They use their mouths and clawedfeet to rip and dig the earth. They sweep away loose mud and dirt with their tails. A burrow might be a hole or a tunnel in a mud bank. It might be a ‘ gator ‘ hole dug into the bottom of a pondimages (1)

courtesy    young world   THE HINDU

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