Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Difference between crocodiles and alligators

Luckily crocodiles have been removed from endangered species list in 2007 as importance of this ancient predator was recognized in eyes of the many people so this article won't be another sad story about another endangered animal. Instead of this I will try to point out the difference between crocodiles and alligators as many people have trouble differentiating them.

First of all they belong in different families of the main family crocodilians: the "real" crocodiles belong to crocodylidae family and alligators in aligotaridae family.

Alligators also have wider and shorted heads than crocodiles, where alligators have a wide U-shaped heads (shovel like) and crocodiles have V-shaped heads . This is mainly because of their jaws since crocodiles' jaws are much narrower and are used to tear and grip on prey and alligators' jaws are primary oriented to crush bone(s).

There's also difference in their mouths since only the upper teeth are visible when an alligator's mouth is closed, while a crocodile's mouth will reveal both upper and lower teeth.

Alligators are much more sensitive to water condition as they require fresh water unlike the crocodiles that can even tolerate salt water due to specialized glands for filtering out salt.

Alligators only live in USA and China and are less aggressive than crocodiles and rarely attack humans unless being provoked unlike crocodiles that are responsible for deaths of hundreds of people each year in Africa and South-East Asia.



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