What is the difference between a crocodile and an alligator?

... They look the same to me. D:

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The first difference between a crocodile and an alligator is that they are from different families of crocodilians. Crocodiles are from the crocodylidae family, while alligators and caiman are from the alligatoridae family.

    In terms of physical differences the easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that a crocodile has a very long, narrow, V-shaped snout, while the alligator's snout is wider and U-shaped. Because of the wide snout of the alligator it packs more crushing power to eat prey like turtles that constitute part of its diet. The narrow crocodile snout, although still very powerful, is not really suited for prey like turtles but is very versatile for fish and mammals.

    Another physical difference between the crocodile and the alligator is that the crocodile's upper and lower jaws are nearly the same width, so the teeth are exposed all along the jaw line in an interlocking pattern, even when the mouth is closed. They also have an enormous 4th tooth on the lower jaw that is accommodated by depressions in the upper jaw just behind the nostrils.

    An alligator, on the other hand, has a wider upper jaw, so when its mouth is closed the teeth in the lower jaw fit into sockets of the upper jaw, hidden from view. Only the teeth of the upper jaw are exposed along the lower jaw line. Even the enormous 4th tooth on the bottom jaw, which is exposed in a crocodile, is hidden in the alligator.

    Another physical difference is that crocodiles have a lighter olive brown coloration, while alligators appear blackish. Alligators also prefer freshwater while crocodiles like brackish water and sometimes even ocean.

    Speaking to this difference, while crocodiles and alligators both have glands on their tongues, crocodiles still use these glands to excrete excess salt. Alligators seem to have lost this ability, making their tolerance for salt water comparatively brief. Biologists believe this suggests that the crocodile is less removed from its oceanic ancestry.

    Both crocodiles and alligators have dotted sensory pits along the upper and lower jaws that look almost like beard stubble. They detect slight changes in water pressure, thought to help the animals locate prey. These sensory pits were called Integumentary Sense Organs (ISOs) until they were renamed to Dermal Pressure Receptors (DPRs). While both animals have them along the jaws, the crocodile has one on every scale covering its entire body. Some researchers believe the crocodile's DPRs might be linked to detecting levels of salinity.

    It is generally stated that alligators are docile compared to aggressive saltwater crocodiles, and that crocodiles grow larger. While true in general, there are exceptions to every rule among the many species. As an example, the average alligator grows to about 14 feet (4.3 meters), while crocodiles can reach 19 feet (5.8 meters) or more. That said there is one species of crocodile - the African dwarf - that barely reaches 5 feet (1.5 meters). Also, the Indian mugger crocodile has a decidedly U-shaped snout, breaking the V-shaped rule.

    In terms of nesting, crocodiles lay their eggs in mud or sand nests near brackish water, while alligators make their nests out of mounds of vegetation surrounding freshwater.

    In the United States crocodiles are only found around the southern tip of Florida, though they can also be found in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Alligators are found in the southeastern United States, and South Florida is the only known place in the world where crocodiles and alligators cohabitate the same areas.

    Crocodilians, which includes both crocodiles and alligators, are believed descended from archosauria which lived 250 million years ago at the end of the Paleozoic era when all the continents were joined together in a single mass known as Pangea. About 30 million years later in the Triassic period (220 million years ago) archosauria split into two lines of evolution, one being crocodilians and the other dinosaurs and birds. Scientists theorize that the Age of Reptiles, which lasted some 155 million years, ended about 65 million years ago when an asteroid struck Earth wiping out the dinosaurs. But while dinosaurs vanished crocodilians survived!

    After surviving nearly unchanged for over 200 million years crocodiles and alligators were hunted to the brink of extinction between 1900 and 1967in a period as brief as a single man's life. Additionally their habitats continue to shrink. Today due to conservation efforts the American alligator is no longer on the endangered species list but many species of crocodiles remain at risk. Continued diligence is necessary if we are to preserve these incredible animals that open a door to the planet's early history and a window into an age of fantastic creatures that ruled the earth for tens of millions of years.

  • hhahahha yeah

    There are three groups (families) of crocodilians: the alligatoridae, which includes the alligator and the caimans; the crocodylidae, which includes the "true" crocodiles; and the gavialidae, which contains only the gharial. So, the first difference is that alligators and crocodiles are actually in different families.

    2. Shape of the jaw: The easiest way of telling apart crocodiles from alligators, however, is to 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. This is illustrated in the diagram to the left (C = alligator, D = crocodile). The broad snout of alligators is designed for strength, capable of withstanding the stress caused to bone when massive force is applied to crack open turtles and hard-shelled invertebrates which form part of their diet. 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 isn't quite as strong as the alligatorine shape, but the crocodile is still capable of exerting massive biting power. Crocodile jaws can be thought of as being more generalised - 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 gharial's is much better at dealing with a fish than a turtle! There are 23 species of crocodilians, though, and this simple broad vs. narrow rule doesn't always work.

    3. 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 (see [A] in diagram on right). In crocodiles, the upper jaw and lower jaw are approximately the same width, and so teeth in the lower jaw fit along the margin of the upper jaw when the mouth is closed. 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 (see [B] in diagram on right). This constriction occurs at the boundary of the premaxilla and the maxilla in the upper jaw.

  • 1 decade ago

    The Alligator has a wider snout than the crocodile. Also it can only move its bottom jaw (like a human) whereas the crocodile can move both.

    See "Interesting Facts About Alligators" at:http://www.helium.com/items/1194983-interesting-fa...

  • 1 decade ago

    Crocs get alot bigger than alligators. They, crocs, are more adaptable than gators too. Gators can mostly live in swamps and marshes, but crocs need salt water or fresh to live. Corcs can live in the plains of Africa's waterways to other places like the Nile too. I have never heard of gators being able to do that.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Crocs have a thinner snout and their teeth all show when their mouths are closed alligators have a wide snout with onl top teeth showing

  • 1 decade ago

    a cricidile is bigger than an alligator and a crocodile is darker than an alligator {:

  • Eva
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    I know they look different..i think alligators are ugly..haha..Their snouts are different..I bet you could find some pics online that would help you visually see the difference.

  • 1 decade ago

    The differnces are in the shape of teh jaw, placement of teeth, salt glands and aggresion in behavior. See source for a list of differences and similarities.

  • 1 decade ago

    the skin...da shape of there bumpie things(the things that look lik scales).......lolz....the texture...

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