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American Alligator - Alligator mississippiensis
Alligator filmed feasting on smaller gator in Florida

Updated 20 minutes ago

PHOTO: An alligator eating another smaller alligator at a nature reserve in Florida in the United States. (YouTube: Alex Figueroa)

An alligator has been captured on video feasting on a smaller alligator at a nature reserve in Florida, in the United States.

Alex Figueroa uploaded the video to YouTube yesterday, saying he stumbled across the grisly scene while out for a morning walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland.

In the video, the mammoth alligator can be seen chomping on the smaller foe and carrying it off into grassland.

Several passers-by surround the alligator with their phones aloft. At one point, some can be seen backing away as the alligator gives its catch a strong shake.

Mr Figueroa estimated the larger alligator to be about 3.6 metres long.

Alligators usually eat everything from fish, turtles, birds, mammals and other reptiles, but they have been known to occasionally eat other, mostly juvenile alligators. 
[Image: wildcat10-CougarHuntingDeer.jpg]
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  • Claudiu Constantin Nicolaescu
Ceratodromeus Wrote:Big male recently taken in Alabama

684 pound alligator comes to the scales, biggest of the year
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This year, the biggest alligator captured by Alabama hunters was a monster, 684 pounds. It was killed by Lee Wright, Phillip Brooks, Jackson Woodson, Alvin Nelson, and James Nelson on the Alabama River north of Holly Creek.

This year's largest alligator measured 12 feet, 10 inches. It had a 68-inch girth around its belly, and was 46 inches around the base of the tail. An animal one inch shorter was weighed in on the Causeway in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. It weighed two pounds less.

Even with dimensions like those, this year's two largest gators were still a lot smaller than the world record gator caught in 2014, which was three feet longer and more than 300 pounds heavier.

While there were a lot of alligators larger than 12 feet brought in this year, the bulk of those killed were less than eight feet long. The first weekend of the two week hunt featured fairly light turnout, but some large animals came to the scale.

State officials said that 88 alligators were brought to the weigh station on the Causeway. Of those, 71 were males, and 14 were females. They ranged from 4 feet six inches to 12 feet nine inches. The average was nine feet long. 

The largest alligator brought in on the Causeway was one inch shorter and two pounds lighter than the alligator weighed in by Lee Wright.

Big Daddy Lawler, of the Gettin' Outdoors radio show on ESPN 1049 on Saturday morning from 7 to 9, collected the results from the West Central zone.
  • Unofficial results of West Central Alabama River Gator Hunt is in the books:
  • - Nick Cochran (Alpine) - 8' 8", 191 lbs., F
  • - Tyler Johnson (Scottsboro) - 7' 5", 105 lbs., F
  • - Gator Mike Gifford - (Eufaua) - 7' 6", 141.5 lbs, M
  • - James Lee Coe (Columbiana) - 7' 9", 130 lbs., M
    Night number 2 results:
  • - Jake Rosser (Stevenson) - 7' 2", 85 lbs., M
  • - Wesley Ann Terry (Camden)- 12' 4 1/2", 547 lbs. M
  • - Karl Breland (Huntsville) - 7' 9", 149.5 lbs., M
  • - Larry Hatchett (Shelby) - 11' 3", 449 lbs., M
  • - Neal Posey (Selma) - 11' 4", 420.5 lbs., M
  • - Jacob Walker (Pike Road) - 6' 8", 75 lbs., F
  • - Ethan Tyree - 10' 10", 318 lbs., M
    Night number 3 results:
  • - Joseph Gann (Trussville) - 7' 7", 100 lbs., M
  • - Dudley Oglesby (Ozark) - 8' 3", 156 lbs., F
  • - Jarrod Pettie (Andulusia) - 11' 2", 380 lbs., M
  • - Brian Robertson (Vinemont) - 6' 2", 61 lbs., F
  • - Jessica Guy (Dickerson) - 12' 6", 562 lbs., M
  • - Louie Wallace (Thomasville) - 5' 11", 39 lbs., F
    Night number 4 results:
  • - Dustin Colquitt (Wetumpka) - 7', 77.5 lbs., M
  • - Michael Buntin (Marion) - 8', 111 lbs., F
  • - Cody Mixon (Repton) - 11' 2 1/2", 347.5 lbs., M
  • -Todd Green (Northport) - 9' 2", 199.5 lbs., M
    Night number 5 results:
  • - John McGee (Eutaw) - 6' 10", 76 lbs., M
  • - Jeremiah Case (Northport) - 6' 10 1/2", 70 lbs., F
  • - Tyler Brown (Moundville) - 7' 11", 119 lbs., M
  • - J. T. Dailey (Camden) - 10' 9 1/2", 333, M
  • - David Hayes (Calera0 - 8', 123 lbs., M
  • - Robert Brown (Troy) - 5' 5", 32 lbs., M
  • - Adam Anderson (Dickinson) - 12' 5", 482.5 lbs., M
  • - Laura Browder (Camden) - 8' 11", 195 lbs., M
    Night number 6 results:
  • - Michael Davis (Warrior) - 6' 1", 42 lbs., F
  • - Glen Brown  (Moundville ) - 8' 9", 178 lbs., F
  • - Brandon Wailes (Anniston) - 12' 3", 421 lbs., M
  • - Nathan Herring (Saraland) - 11' 6", 406 lbs. M


Ceratodromeus Wrote:American Alligator’s Lineage is More Ancient than Previously Thought
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“If we could step back in time 8 million years, you’d basically see the same animal crawling around then as you would see today in the Southeast,” said lead researcher Dr. Evan Whiting, from the University of Minnesota.

“Even 30 million years ago, they didn’t look much different,” he added.

“We were surprised to find fossil alligators from this deep in time that actually belong to the living species, rather than an extinct one.”

He and his colleagues describe the alligator as a survivor, withstanding sea-level fluctuations and extreme changes in climate that would have caused some less-adaptive animals to rapidly change or go extinct.

The scientists began re-thinking the alligator’s evolutionary history after Dr. Whiting examined an ancient alligator skull, originally thought to be an extinct species, unearthed in Marion County, Florida, and found it to be virtually identical to the iconic modern species.

They compared the ancient skull with dozens of other fossils and modern skeletons to look at the whole genus and trace major changes, or the lack thereof, in alligator morphology.

The authors also studied the carbon and oxygen compositions of the teeth of both ancient alligators and the 20- to 25-foot extinct crocodile Gavialosuchus americanus that once dominated the Florida coastline and died out about 5 million years ago for unknown reasons.

“The presence of alligator and Gavialosuchus fossils at several localities in north Florida suggest the two species may have coexisted in places near the coast,” Dr. Whiting said.

Analysis of the teeth suggests, however, that Gavialosuchus americanus was a marine reptile, which sought its prey in ocean waters, while alligators tended to hunt in freshwater and on land. That doesn’t mean alligators weren’t occasionally eaten by the marine crocs, though.

“The gators we see today do not really compete with anything, but millions of years ago it was not only competing with another type of crocodilian, it was competing with a much larger one,” said co-author Dr. David Steadman, from the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida (UF).

“The presence of the ancient crocodile in Florida may have helped keep the alligators in freshwater habitats, though it appears alligators have always been most comfortable in freshwater.”

“While modern alligators do look prehistoric as they bake on sandbars along the Suwannee River or stroll down sidewalks on the UF campus, they are not somehow immune to evolution,” the researchers said.

“On the contrary, they are the result of an incredibly ancient evolutionary line.”

“The group they belong to, Crocodylia, has been around for at least 84 million years and has diverse ancestors dating as far back as the Triassic, more than 200 million years ago.”

The scientists reported their results in a pair of papers in the Journal of Herpetology and the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

Cranial Polymorphism and Systematics of Miocene and Living Alligator in North America
We examined the osteology of Neogene Alligator, with a focus on fossils from the late Miocene (~8–7 million years ago [Ma]) Moss Acres Racetrack locality in Marion County, Florida, USA. These fossils have been referred previously to Alligator cf. A. mefferdi (early late Miocene, ~12–10 Ma, Nebraska), an extinct species that we and others have found to be lacking autapomorphic characters. Furthermore, numerous cranial polymorphisms, previously regarded as diagnostic autapomorphies or synapomorphies, exist in several species of Alligator, particularly in Alligator prenasalis (late Eocene–early Oligocene, ~36–33 Ma, South Dakota and possibly Nebraska), Alligator olseni (early Miocene, ~18–17 Ma, Florida), and the extant American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis; southeastern United States). Except for minute differences in two scapular characters, the fossil Alligator from Moss Acres Racetrack is virtually indistinguishable from the A. mississippiensis morphotype, suggesting its referral to that lineage rather than to an extinct species. Cladistic analysis upholds this notion, with A. mississippiensis and the Moss Acres Racetrack Alligator being sister taxa in a unified clade isolated from A. mefferdi. This implies that the A. mississippiensis morphological lineage has existed in North America with very little change for the past 7–8 million years.

Ceratodromeus Wrote:Large SC male

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"Gavin McDowell, 16, stands next to a 13-foot, 5-inch alligator he helped his father and crew catch late Friday night in the Waccamaw River. 

On an alligator hunting trip late Friday night 2 miles south of Wacca Wache Marina in the Waccamaw River, Landon McDowell thought he was hooked up with a stump.

Pulling with all his might, McDowell soon noticed some movement below.

The next thing he knew, he – and his crew members, his son Gavin, and friend Jim Arnette and his son, James – were in a more than two-hour wrestling match with what proved to be a 13-foot, 5-inch alligator.

“I was having trouble casting on him. He actually surfaced and he went back down. When I saw him go back down, I threw in the area where he was at and I didn’t know I had him. Normally when you hook a gator, he will run. But when I hooked up, it didn’t run. I said ‘I’m hung on a stump,’ and I started pulling as hard as I could to break it loose from the stump and then it started moving,” said McDowell, a captain who runs charters for Wallace Lee’s Fishing Guides in Murrells Inlet. “I think just because of his size it took a little more to get him off the bottom. But when he ran, it was on.

On an alligator hunting trip late Friday night 2 miles south of Wacca Wache Marina in the Waccamaw River, Landon McDowell thought he was hooked up with a stump.
Pulling with all his might, McDowell soon noticed some movement below.

The next thing he knew, he – and his crew members, his son Gavin, and friend Jim Arnette and his son, James – were in a more than two-hour wrestling match with what proved to be a 13-foot, 5-inch alligator.

“I was having trouble casting on him. He actually surfaced and he went back down. When I saw him go back down, I threw in the area where he was at and I didn’t know I had him. Normally when you hook a gator, he will run. But when I hooked up, it didn’t run. I said ‘I’m hung on a stump,’ and I started pulling as hard as I could to break it loose from the stump and then it started moving,” said McDowell, a captain who runs charters for Wallace Lee’s Fishing Guides in Murrells Inlet. “I think just because of his size it took a little more to get him off the bottom. But when he ran, it was on.

Soon, the crew won the battle.

“After about two hours, he tired out and surfaced enough to get a harpoon in him and shortly after the harpoon we were able to get a good shot on him,” McDowell said.

After hauling the gator home early Saturday morning, McDowell took the gator to a processor in Hemingway for it to be measured and weighed. The initial weight he was told was 655 pounds, but they “couldn’t get whole gator off ground” at the time and on Monday he was told a weight of 816 pounds. That was “a whole lot more accurate,” McDowell said.

“I have seen some fishing in Georgetown that I thought were close to this size, but I’ve never been on a hunt and actually seen one this big while I was hunting,” said McDowell, who’s been hunting alligators for five or six years. “So it was exciting.”

McDowell said he tried to research the state record so he could find out where his catch stood. He didn’t have much luck finding concrete numbers, but said “It’s got to be close.”

The gator was so big that McDowell – who was hunting on a 17-foot boat – needed his brother, Robbie, to bring his boat, a 20-footer, so they could bring him in. McDowell had some family members meet them at the ramp, and they were speechless when they saw the animal.

“Their jaw just dropped when they saw it,” McDowell said. “They had no clue that something like that was swimming in the river there where they’ve swam and tubed and everything.”

Despite making the kill in close proximity to Wacca Wache Marina, McDowell doesn’t believe folks should be concerned.

“It’s definitely an area where a lot of people ski and swim, but once you hunt these gators you respect them. But they do not act very aggressive most of the time,” McDowell said. “There’s very few times I’ve seen them act aggressive. It wouldn’t deter me from going back on the water as far as swimming and things like that because, for the most part, from what I’ve seen if you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone.”

McDowell said his father and brother have both killed alligators over 12 feet long. But this one will certainly stick with him. He plans to receive the head back from the Hemingway processor so he can mount it.

“I’ve decided that I’m going to get the head mounted because I don’t know if I’ll ever get an opportunity to shoot one this size,” McDowell said.

Ceratodromeus Wrote:Meet 'Pearl,' the rare albino alligator at Gatorland
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"ORLANDO, Fla. - There are only just over a dozen albino alligators in the world and one of them, a rare albino alligator named "Pearl," lives at Gatorland in Orlando.

Pearl is about 10-years-old, 7 1/2 feet long and 105 pounds. The complete absence of pigmentation gives her the pearly white skin and white eyes.

She arrived at the park when she was about three-years-old.

Video posted on Instagram shows her eagerly waiting for food from the trainers who have worked with her for years
Pearl is the only albino alligator at the theme park. Gatorland has been around since 1949 and is a 100-acre park where visitors can not only visit Pearl, they can ride a train, see thousands of alligators and crocodiles, catch Gator Wrestlin' shows, have Up-Close Encounters, and ride the zip line."

Ceratodromeus Wrote:Orange alligators

Taipan Wrote:Orange-Hued Alligator Spotted in South Carolina

By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | February 10, 2017 01:15pm ET

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An orange alligator suns itself on the banks of a retention pond at the Tanner Plantation neighborhood on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017 in Hanahan, S.C.
Credit: Leroy Burnell/The Post & Courier/AP

A predatory beast with leathery orange skin is gallivanting through social media, sowing fear in its wake.

That's because there have been recent sightings of a tangerine-colored alligator in South Carolina. 

Earlier this week, members of a residential community in Hanahan, South Carolina, spotted an unusual sight near one of the retention ponds — an alligator with skin tinted an orange hue. Estimated to be 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) long, the apricot alligator was nicknamed "Trumpigator" by its human neighbors, local television newscast WCBD News 2 reported. 

The carrot-colored crocodilian is most likely an American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) — the only crocodilian native to South Carolina — which can live to be more than 60 years old and reach lengths of up to 13 feet (4 m), according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).

Earlier this week, the gator was photographed basking on the bank near a pond, its bright orange skin standing out in sharp contrast to the patchy brown grass. Several Facebook commenters joked that the alligator must be a fan of the Tigers football team at Clemson University, South Carolina, which has an orange logo and uniforms.

But alligators don't paint themselves in pumpkin palettes to show sports allegiances or to look tanned for television cameras. So what might have turned this alligator the unexpected hue? One explanation might be rust, iron oxide, from a steel culvert where the alligator was hiding out during the winter, an SCDNR representative tweeted.

An environmental factor like algae or a pollutant in the water could also color a gator's skin, but it's difficult to know for sure, Josh Zalabak, a herpetologist with the South Carolina Aquarium, told WCBD News 2. If the discoloration is only skin-deep, it should disappear in a few weeks, when the alligator sheds its skin, WCBD News 2 reported.

While rusty reptiles are rare, this isn't the first time someone has spied an alligator resembling an escapee from a Cheetos factory.

In 2011, news of an orange alligator photographed in Venice, Florida, prompted speculation about whether the beast's appearance represented a dramatic dye job or "evolution in action," biologist David Steen wrote in a blog post that year.

Steen, an assistant research professor at the Auburn University Museum of Natural History in Alabama, noted that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission weighed in quickly to explain that the peculiar color was probably caused by something in the water. In fact, Steen had observed this phenomenon firsthand, in turtles he captured years earlier in New York State, he said.

"I would occasionally visit ponds with water stained from naturally occurring sediment. As you might expect, the turtles I caught in these ponds were colored differently from those I caught elsewhere," Steen wrote. 

As tempting as it might be to venture closer to a strangely colored gator to snap a photo, wildlife officials warn that people need to exercise caution around these large predators, and maintain a safe distance. About 60 feet (18 m) is recommended by the Savannah River Ecology Lab (SREL) at the University of Georgia, in a post about alligator safety.

"Please remember that they are wild animals and should be respected as such," J. Whitfield Gibbons, director of outreach for SREL, said in the statement. "A few precautions on our part can help both humans and alligators coexist safely."
Another one
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" For the second time this month, a rust-colored alligator has turned up in the Carolinas.

The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports ( ) Tuesday that some residents of a Calabash, North Carolina, neighborhood have named the pumpkin-colored alligator "Donny."

Earlier this month, residents joked that an orange alligator that turned up in a pond near Charleston had used too much self-tanning lotion. Jay Butfiloski with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said the color may have come from where the animal spent the winter, perhaps in a rusty steel culvert pipe."
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Alligators Attack and Eat Sharks, Study Confirms
The American reptiles have a voracious diet, but scientists were still surprised by what they found.

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An American alligator swallows an adult bonnethead shark, one of four examples of the reptiles eating elasmobranchs. 

By Jason Bittel

American alligators gobble up anything they can get their jaws around. Now, a new study has added new items to their menu: sharks and stingrays.

It's particularly surprising, says study leader James Nifong, an ecologist at Kansas State University, because alligators are known as freshwater predators.

In fact, when Nifong started asking alligator experts if they’d ever encountered instances of the toothy reptiles preying upon elasmobranchs—a group that includes sharks, rays, and skates—quite a few people thought he was joking. 

Persistence paid off, however, and Nifong confirmed four separate instances in which an American alligator ate a lemon shark, a nurse shark, a bonnethead shark, and an Atlantic stingray.

He also uncovered some historical accounts of sharks preying upon American alligators, suggesting that the two carnivores square off more often than thought.

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Shark Science @SharkScience
Alligator predation on sharks and rays - new paper by James Nifong & Russ Lowers 
1:29 AM - Sep 20, 2017

Both "are known for their extreme eating habits, and both are highly opportunistic predators,” says Nifong, whose findings were published in the most recent issue of the peer-reviewed journal Southeastern Naturalist.

“So, when presented with a potential opportunity to feed, they are not likely to pass it up.”


There are a few reasons why observations of shark-gator showdowns are scarce.

For starters, both animals are tough to follow and observe in their coastal habitats, says Adam Rosenblatt, an ecologist at the University of North Florida who studies alligators.

What's more, gators consume sharks that are quite a bit smaller than Jaws, and so the fish may look like just any other to the average onlooker. 

Still, alligator researchers have a method for examining the stomach contents of live alligators—a sort of cross between a stomach pump and the Heimlich maneuver—so shouldn’t there be more evidence of sharks in gator guts?

Probably not, says Rosenblatt, who is all too familiar with picking through alligator vomit.

“Most prey gators eat turn to mush pretty quickly within their stomachs,” he says. “It all turns into one big pile of indistinguishable stuff, except for certain body parts like hair and shells.”


Elsewhere in the world, there are several observations of crocodilians—a group that includes alligators, crocodiles, and caimans—duking it out with elasmobranchs.

In Australia, people have witnessed saltwater crocodiles going into the surf to hunt bull sharks. Similarly, a study published earlier this year found that more than half of the freshwater sawfish sampled in Western Australia sported scars inflicted by freshwater crocodiles.

And in South Africa, one Nile crocodile was found with the remains of two unidentified shark species in its belly. 

There are even some crocodilian fossils that show bite marks from ancient sharks, hinting that these predators have been enemies since the Late Cretaceous period.


Perhaps most interesting are the several accounts Nifong uncovered of sharks attacking large groups of alligators.

In the most bizarre instance, in 1877, hundreds of American alligators congregated in an inlet near Jupiter, Florida, attracted by fish trapped by the high tide. Hundreds of sharks, sensing potential prey, followed. In the days after the battle, beaches as far as 80 miles away were littered with carcasses of both species, according to The Fishing Gazette, a sports magazine at the time. 

While these historical accounts were “definitely embellished”—probably to exaggerate the number and size of the animals involved—“the fact remains these were definitely observations of alligator-elasmobranch interactions," Nifong says.

Rosenblatt agrees: “Gators are known to congregate in large groups occasionally to feed on abundant prey, and sharks are known to do the same thing, so it's certainly possible that large-scale interactions would take place between the two."

He adds that both gator and shark populations are generally smaller than they once were, which could explain why such massive gatherings are rare today.

“Nature is a wild and crazy place.”

Journal Reference:
James C. Nifong and Russell H. Lowers Reciprocal Intraguild Predation between Alligator mississippiensis (American Alligator) and Elasmobranchii in the Southeastern United States Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 16, Issue 3 (2017): 383–396

The food habits and predatory interactions of Alligator mississippiensis (Ameri-can Alligator) have been thoroughly studied within populations inhabiting inland freshwater ecosystems; however, it is increasingly evident that coastal populations habitually forage in estuarine and nearshore marine ecosystems inhabited by other top predators. While few studies have been performed, data reported thus far from marine-foraging populations indicate individuals chiefly consume small-bodied prey such as crustaceans, fish, and wading birds. Nonetheless, capture and consumption of large-bodied marine prey such as multiple species of sea turtles and a single species of Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays) have been documented. Here, we examine evidence regarding reciprocal intraguild predation between American Alligators and elasmobranchs. We provide the first evidence of American Alligator depredation of 4 Elasmobranchii species and review putative evidence for Elasmobranchii depredation of American Alligators. We discuss the ecological significance of
these interactions, draw comparisons to similar interactions experienced by other crocodil-ians, and recommend further avenues for research on the subject. 
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Alligators 'Snorkel' to Survive Ice-Covered Swamp

By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer | January 10, 2018 07:24am ET

[Image: aHR0cDovL3d3dy5saXZlc2NpZW5jZS5jb20vaW1h...ljZS5qcGVn]
An alligator sticks its snout out through the ice at Shallotte River Swamp Park, in North Carolina.
Credit: The Swamp Park in Ocean Isle, N.C.

A video showing alligator snouts poking out though an ice-covered swamp in North Carolina during last week's cold snap may look like the preview of an avant-garde art installation, but it actually depicts an adaptive trick that helps these reptiles survive in winter weather, a wildlife ecologist said.

Unlike mammals, alligators rely on ambient temperature to keep their bodies warm, which is why they can often be found basking in the sun or hanging out in air-pocketed burrows they've dug into the banks of rivers and lakes.

But when it gets so cold that their ponds freeze over, some alligators are known to swim to the surface and poke their snouts above the icy water so they can breathe properly, James Perran Ross, a retired associate scientist of wildlife ecology and conservation at the University of Florida, told Live Science. 

"It's an interesting behavior because it's opposite of what most crocodilians do," Ross said. "The normal response of most other crocs when it gets really cold is to come out of the water and try to bask to get warm again."

But getting out of the water on a cold day isn't a good idea; the air is usually colder than the water itself, meaning that these ectothermic (or cold-blooded) creatures typically freeze to death, Ross sad.

Luckily, because they live in tropical habitats, crocodilians generally don't face freezing temperatures. But the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), a member of the order Crocodilia, sometimes finds itself in chilly conditions, especially the individuals that live as far north as North Carolina on the East Coast and others that live in the southern half of Arkansas, above Louisiana, Ross said.

In the video, posted to Facebook on Jan. 5, several alligator snouts can be seen poking up through the ice at Shallotte River Swamp Park, in Ocean Isle Beach, a seaside town in southern North Carolina.

"[They're] giving themselves the ability to be able to breathe, even though it's all iced up," the videographer says. "Here, we are in our freezing last few days, and the alligators are doing their thing."

However, this snout-above-water trick doesn't always work. In 1977, a male American alligator stuck its nose through a 4-inch-diameter (10 centimeters) hole after the reservoir where it was living in South Carolina froze over, according to a 1982 study in the journal The American Midland Naturalist.

The alligator periodically lifted its nose out of the water to breathe, the researchers observed. But they discovered its dead body a few days later, floating below the recently iced-over hole. Because no one saw the alligator die, it wasn't clear whether the alligator died before or after ice covered its breathing hole, the study authors wrote.

The takeaway? Cold water causes alligator body functions to slow down. So, whether or not they have a breathing hole, alligators have trouble surviving in water that's below about 39 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius), the researchers wrote.

Journal Reference:
I. Lehr Brisbin, Jr., Edward A. Standora and Michael J. Vargo Body Temperatures and Behavior of American Alligators during Cold Winter Weather The American Midland Naturalist Vol. 107, No. 2 (Apr., 1982), pp. 209-218

Data from two large (188 and 135 kg) male alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) indicated that 4-5 C seemed to be the lowest body temperatures that they could endure with subsequent recovery Although one animal in shallow water managed to keep a breathing hole open for several days, in ice that was 1.5 cm thick, it later died following a decrease of its body temperature to 4.0 C. The second alligator which was located in a deeper portion of the reservoir used both terrestrial and aquatic basking behavior to raise its body temperature and level of activity Except in the case of basking events, there was no clear evidence of significant elevations of the body temperatures of either the live or dead alligators above those of their adjacent water. When located side-by-side, diurnal cycles of deep body temperatures of both the live animal and the dead animal's carcass were similar, with deep body temperatures exceeding adjacent water temperatures to a maximum extent near dawn and usually falling below water temperatures during the afternoon and early evening hours. The physical properties and thermal inertia of the bodies of such large alligators, when placed in appropriate microclimates, may be sufficient in themselves to explain the general patterns and levels of body temperature changes observed at these low temperatures. 
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  • Claudiu Constantin Nicolaescu
See an Alligator Devour Another Alligator in These Gruesome Photos

By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | August 23, 2018 09:30am ET

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Cannibalism in alligators is more common than you might expect.
Credit: Brad Streets/Caters News

In a marsh near coastal Texas, a young alligator recently met a grisly end — as a meal for another, much bigger alligator.
A photographer happened to be nearby and captured the alligator cannibalism, as the hungry beast gulped down its prey. The small alligator was more than a mouthful for the larger predator, but the big gator determinedly gnashed and chomped, and the smaller gator's body and legs eventually disappeared down the big reptile's throat.
In the final photo, only the tail of the little alligator is still visible, dangling from the now-sated bigger gator's jaws. 

Photographer Brad Streets spotted the cannibalism at Brazos Bend State Park in Needville, Texas; his attention was first captured by a floating pile of guts that he spied in the water near a large alligator, he said in a statement.
About an hour later, he got a closer look at the gator and noticed that it had a much smaller alligator in its mouth, Streets said.
[Image: aHR0cDovL3d3dy5saXZlc2NpZW5jZS5jb20vaW1h...M1MDMwOTQ1]
Small prey can be gulped down whole, but bigger meals take a little more work.
Credit: Brad Streets/Caters News

American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) are abundant in Texas along the Gulf of Mexico, where they inhabit coastal marshes and river systems, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW). An estimated 250 alligators measuring at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) long inhabit Brazos Bend State Park, and some measure as long as 16 feet (4.9 m), TPW representatives said on the park's website.
Alligators living in the park may be found anywhere there is water, and "even in some places where there isn't water," according to TPW. Gators aren't picky eaters and will swallow whatever they find in or near the water that they think might be food — and that can include rocks, shotgun shells and beer cans, the TPW explained.
Some American alligators have been known to snack on sharks, scientists reported in a study published in September 2017 in the journal Southeastern Naturalist; researchers have even observed crocodilians eating fruit. But an alligator's typical diet includes fish, turtles, snakes, birds and mammals — such as rabbits, hogs, raccoons and deer — and yes, sometimes other alligators.
In fact, alligator cannibalism is not at all unusual, James Nifong, a research biologist in the Wetlands and Coastal Ecology Branch of the U.S. Army Corps Engineer Research and Development Center, told Live Science.
"The larger males, they're opportunistic. They see a smaller alligator — it's a nice snack for them," Nifong said. "It usually happens with larger adult males that have established a certain territory. During mating season, when subordinate males come along, they fight — and the winner eats the loser."

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Bottoms up! In the end, only the smaller gator's tail was visible in the hungry predator's maw.
Credit: Brad Streets/Caters News

Small prey is gulped down whole, but consuming larger animals takes time, and alligators use their powerful jaws to crunch bones and shred bigger meals into more manageable, bite-size pieces, Jonathan Warner, an alligator program leader for TPW, told Live Science.
"They'll do a 'death roll' and spin in the water and use their sharp teeth and strong jaws to rip off chunks of the prey and swallow it in pieces," Warner said.
For a really big meal, an alligator might stash its bloody prize in a den or burrow at the water's edge to let it "soften up" so that it's easier to tear apart, and then come back and finish it off later, Warner added.
"It depends on the size of the prey, the temperature of the water and how hungry they are," he said.
A meal the size of a young alligator, such as the one shown in the photos, would take the big gator a couple of weeks to digest, Nifong told Live Science. But that doesn't mean that the alligator will take a break from enjoying the ongoing buffet its watery ecosystem provides, he added.
"They're not like snakes, which sit there for a month after a big meal and don't eat anything. If they have access to food — they'll take it," Nifong said.
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How Alligators Survive in a Frozen Pond: They 'Snorkel'

By Jeanna Bryner, Live Science Managing Editor | January 25, 2019 10:27am ET

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An American alligator sticks its snout out of an icy pond at the Shallotte River Swamp Park in North Carolina. Credit: George Howard, The Swamp Park, Ocean Isle Beach NC

As temperatures dipped along the U.S. East Coast, alligators at a sanctuary park in North Carolina figured out a cute way to survive in their icy homes: They poked their noses out of the water as it began to freeze over, their scaly "snorkels" becoming their only conduit for oxygen.
Several American alligators were spotted this week with their noses breaching the icy water's surface at The Swamp Park in Ocean Isle Beach, in southern North Carolina, which houses rescued alligators in a fenced-off body of water near the Shallotte River.
"The water they are in does tend to freeze on consecutive sub-freezing nights. This does not happen often," said George Howard, the park's general manager. "They do this as a survival technique — a coping mechanism to allow them to breathe in the event the water freezes over." 
"This time of year, they are in a process called 'brumation,' kind of like hibernation except they are fully aware," Howard told Live Science. "They lower their metabolism to survive the cold. They don't eat for a few months, until the temps get up to 70 [degrees Fahrenheit; 21 degrees Celsius] and above."
During brumation, an alligator's metabolism slows down, allowing the reptile to go without food and just "chill" for four to five months.
They can't let their bodies get too cold, however, or they will die. American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis), a member of the order Crocodilia, are cold-blooded animals, so they essentially take on the temperature of their surroundings. That's why they bask in the sun, using the heat to get toasty, and why they can't live too far north in the U.S.
When air temperatures drop below about 70 F, the reptiles sometimes dig out muddy underwater dens to keep warm. They can also apparently stay submerged in water with only their snouts sticking above the surface for hours to a few days, said Greg Skupien, of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, who cited research published in the 1980s.
In a study published in 1982 in The American Midland Naturalist, researchers from the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory found that an alligator in an iced-over pond in South Carolina kept a breathing hole in the 0.6-inch-thick (1.5 centimeters) ice for several days, though the animal later died because its body got too cold, dropping to 39 F (4 C).
Scientists reported on a similar behavior in 1983 in the Journal of Herpetology, describing a "'submerged breathing' posture in which the snout broke the water (i.e., ice) surface, while the remainder of the head and the body angled back down into the den."
Though Skupien, curator of the Naturalist Center at the museum, has never witnessed the so-called icing response, he told Live Science that the behavior is "as weird as it gets for alligators."
He added, "There are other reptiles and amphibians that exhibit some pretty cool overwintering strategies, such as frogs that produce cryoprotectants (i.e., antifreeze) and turtles that can essentially breathe from their butts (i.e., cloacal respiration)."
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No teeth cleaning needed: Crocodiles shed old teeth, grow new ones
Even fossilized plant-eating crocodiles replaced their teeth

Date: August 13, 2019
Source: University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary: Having one of the most powerful bites in the animal kingdom, crocodiles must be able to bite hard to eat their food such as turtles, wildebeest and other large prey. Now, researchers have found that crocodiles -- and even their plant-eating ancestors -- had thin tooth enamel, a trait that is in stark contrast to humans and other hard-biting species. These findings could suggest new approaches for dealing with people's teeth.

Unlike people, crocodiles do not clean their teeth to slow down wear and tear. Instead, they get rid of them and replace them with new copies.
Having one of the most powerful bites in the animal kingdom, crocodiles must be able to bite hard to eat their food such as turtles, wildebeest and other large prey. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that crocodiles -- and even their plant-eating ancestors -- had thin tooth enamel, a trait that is in stark contrast to humans and other hard-biting species. These findings could suggest new approaches for dealing with people's teeth.
"Once we unlock genetically how crocodiles and other non-mammals do this, maybe new teeth can be bioengineered for people," said Brianne Schmiegelow, a former undergraduate student at MU and current dental student at University of Missouri-Kansas City. "Instead of using fillers such as crowns, people could instead 'grow' new teeth when they need to replace their worn out chompers."
The team used a three-dimensional x-ray scanner to measure the thickness of tooth enamel in crocodiles. They found regardless of tooth position -- incisor, canine, molar -- age or diet, crocodiles do not have thick tooth enamel. With this new information, the team also studied published data on dinosaur teeth and found that the data nearly matched what they were seeing in crocodiles. For instance, a Tyrannosaurus rex has the same enamel thickness as a crocodile and can also bite extremely hard.
"Crocodiles bite really hard, so we were curious if they have teeth that correspondingly withstand those forces -- tough teeth to match a tough bite," said Kaleb Sellers, a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri and lead researcher on the study. "We found that they don't have tough teeth, and we think it's because they replace their teeth like most other non-mammal animals. That made us wonder if other animals -- even prehistoric -- had similar issues."
Researchers said the next step is to study tooth replacement and the timing of teeth growth in crocodiles and other animals such as dinosaurs -- even looking into the possibility of genetic causes.
"Enamel takes a long time to build, so it's not something animals will do 'off-the-cuff,' so to speak," said Casey Holliday, an associate professor of anatomy in the MU School of Medicine. "It presents us with an interesting puzzle. If ancient crocodiles were chewing plants, did their new teeth already have the correct architecture -- dimples and facets -- to allow for this chewing? The findings here have paved the way for exploring this mystery with future research."

Story Source: University of Missouri-Columbia. "No teeth cleaning needed: Crocodiles shed old teeth, grow new ones: Even fossilized plant-eating crocodiles replaced their teeth." ScienceDaily. (accessed August 14, 2019).

Journal Reference:
K. C. Sellers, A. B. Schmiegelow, C. M. Holliday. The significance of enamel thickness in the teeth of Alligator mississippiensis and its diversity among crocodyliforms. Journal of Zoology, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/jzo.12707

Enamel is the hardest tissue in the vertebrate body. Although variation in enamel microstructure is often linked with diet, the gross proportions of the tissues that compose vertebrate teeth remain relatively unexplored in reptiles. To investigate the patterns of enamel thickness in crocodyliforms, we used micro‐computed tomography scanning to evaluate enamel thickness in teeth of Alligator mississippiensis from rostral, intermediate and caudal locations in the tooth row from an ontogenetic range of animals. We also evaluated enamel thickness in the derived teeth of several extinct crocodyliforms with disparate craniodental morphologies. Our data show that enamel thickness scales isometrically with skull length. We also show that enamel is relatively thicker in caudal teeth than teeth in more rostral positions, concordant with the higher bite forces they experience during feeding. We compared our data with existing enamel thickness data reported from dinosaurs and mammalian taxa to find that archosaurs have markedly thinner enamel than most mammals. These findings serve as a basis for future investigations into the diversity and function of the proportions of dental tissues.

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