Alligators can often reach at least 14 or 15 feet in length, which is even larger than some crocodile species, but not all of them, especially not the Saltwater Crocodile (I am talking about the American alligator – A. mississippiensis here, the Chinese alligator – A. sinensis is much smaller). But what is the largest alligator ever measured?
Related: 20 amazing facts about alligators
There are two candidates:
The Alabama Alligator (The Stokes Alligator) – 15 feet and 9 inches (4.8 meters)
Five members of the Stokes family captured and killed a giant alligator at the Alabama R
It can be viewed in the Mann Wildlife Learning Museum, Montgomery. Mandy Stokes, who shot dead the animal, has said the alligator was 24 – 28 years old, which was determined from an analysis of its leg bone.
The Louisiana Alligator – 19 feet 2 inches (5.84 meters)?
According to Wikipedia, and the open-source encyclopedia cites alligatorfur.com, the largest alligator ever was taken on Marsh Island, Louisiana and was 19 feet 2 inches (5.84 meters). Unfortunately, there’s no photo of the beast. So I have doubts if it’s true.
Update April 6, 2016: The Florida farm alligator
In Florida, hunters shot a 15-feet (4.57 meters) and 800 pounds (362.8 kg) alligator. The gator was reportedly terrorizing and eating cattle on a Florida farm. Definitely not the largest ever, but it’s worth to mention it here.
What’s the difference between a crocodile and an alligator?
An alligator is also a crocodilian in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. So the two creatures share many similarities. But what are the real differences between them? This is probably the most frequently asked question when it comes to crocodilians.
The shape of the head (jaw): this is the most obvious difference between a crocodile and an alligator. Crocodiles have a longer, more V-shaped head then alligators. Look at their noses: alligators (and caimans) have a wide “U”-shaped, rounded snout (like a shovel), whereas crocodiles tend to have longer and more pointed “V”-shaped noses.
The broad snout of alligators is designed for strength, capable of withstanding the stress caused to
Of course, alligators eat softer prey too, but hard-shelled prey are ubiquitous in their environment and it’s a big advantage to be able to eat them. Conversely, the pointed snout of a crocodile looks not quite as strong as the
Crocodile jaws can be thought of as being more generalized – ideal for a wide variety of prey. The full extent of the way jaw shape influences diet isn’t particularly well studied in crocodilians, but it’s obvious that a very thin nose like a
Despite alligator jaws seem more strong, the crocodile jaws are stronger. They beat all creatures whose bites have been evaluated, in fact. Paleobiologist Gregory M. Erickson and colleagues put all 23 living crocodilian species through an unprecedented bite test. The “winners” -saltwater crocodiles- slammed their jaws shut with 3,700 pounds per square inch (psi), or 16,460 newtons, of bite force (this is far more powerful than even the strongest bite force of the carnivore land mammals).
And while a 2008 computer model estimated that a 21-foot (6.5-meter) great white shark would produce nearly 4,000 psi (17,790 newtons) of bite force, that figure hasn’t been directly measured. Read the full story on nationalgeographic.com.
Placement of teeth
In alligators, the upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw and completely overlaps it. Therefore, the teeth in the lower jaw are almost completely hidden when the mouth closes, fitting neatly into small depressions or sockets in the upper jaw.
This is particularly apparent with the large fourth tooth in the lower jaw. In crocodiles, the upper jaw and lower jaw are approximately the same
Therefore, the upper teeth interlock (and “interdigitate”) with the lower teeth when the mouth shuts. As the large fourth tooth in the lower jaw also fits outside the upper jaw, there is a well-defined constriction in the upper jaw behind the nostrils to accommodate it when the mouth is closed. The fourth tooth of a crocodile sticks out when its mouth is closed.
Alligators strongly favor freshwater while some species of crocodile live in seawater. Both Alligators and Crocodiles have glands on their tongues that help cope with high salt content in water, only the Crocodiles gland appears to function, or function effectively. This fact means Crocodiles are far more likely to be found in saltwater, than Alligators.
Alligator species, of which there are two, are restricted geographically to the southeast of the United States of America, the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) and the Chinese Alligator (Alligator sinensis) in the Yangtze River in China. Caiman species are found in Central and South America, while the Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is native to India.
Crocodile species have a far wider range, living throughout the tropical waters of Africa, Asia the Americas and Australia. Most people regard crocodiles as more aggressive than alligators, and this is true of some species.
For example, alligators are relatively docile next to saltwater crocodiles, but there are many species with many different kinds of behaviors and temperaments. A general rule that crocodiles are more aggressive than alligators just isn’t possible to make.
- Alligator on Wikipedia
- What’s the difference between a crocodile and an alligator? on Crocodilian.com
- Crocodile & Alligator Differences on ScienceKidz.co.nz