Similarities Between a Crocodile and an Alligator

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Alligators and Crocodiles are both from the semi-aquatic reptile family. They appear to be enormous and are both from the order “Crocodilia” but come from distinct families. Many people may be confused by their looks and mistakenly use the terms “crocodile” and “alligator” interchangeably. 

Despite having a somewhat similar appearance, the two reptiles differ greatly from one another. For example, crocodile snouts are longer and thinner than alligator snouts. Crocodiles may live in saline water, while alligators are freshwater creatures. Alligators are less violent than crocodiles, and the latter’s bites can be fatal.

Even though they have some similarities, both of them will consume fish and amphibians. Nevertheless, a crocodile’s bite is insane. Sufficient to crack a turtle’s shell and consume the turtle. Although less powerful when biting, alligators can still break the shell. Both animals have unique saliva in their mouths that may eliminate any germ that enters the mouths of the animals. This makes illness difficult for both animals.

Keep reading below to learn more about both animals and their commonalities.

Large Semi Aquatic Animals

The two animals’ main point of resemblance is that they are both sizable semi-aquatic reptiles. However, since they are cold-blooded creatures that rely on heat from an outside source, such as the sun, their bodies cannot control their internal temperatures.

Cold-blooded species require relatively little energy to migrate from one location to another. As a result, they don’t have a voracious appetite like mammals or other warm-blooded creatures, despite crocodiles and alligators being notorious for their carnivorous diets. Furthermore, both creatures have hard, scaly skin since they are reptiles.

Sneaky Predators

Both alligators and crocodiles have unique skin types. Even when submerged, the highly developed skin cells can pick up the smallest pressure or movement change. They can locate their prey thanks to this specialty. In addition, these creatures’ nostrils are located at the highest tip of their snouts, the same like their eyes are located on the highest point of the head. It enables these reptiles to maintain their bodies under the water’s surface while keeping their heads above the surface and eyes peeled for potential prey. Thanks to this adaptation, they may lay and wait for their prey to get close enough so they can attack.

They have two eyelids. One is used to physically close the eye, while the other is a thin eyelid that closes just before they go underwater, permitting them to see when they go underwater to hunt. The two species have a similar diet of fish, birds, and small animals. Giant alligators can take down animals as large as deer. Some adult crocodiles can slay even more substantial prey.

Aquatic Habitats

Both crocodiles and alligators live in water. They both prefer to reside close to the sea or underwater. However, crocodiles prefer saline water to live in, while alligators prefer freshwater. They behave quite similarly when it comes to water. Both species can swim quickly and hunt underwater due to their aquatic habitats.

Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination of Eggs

All members of the “Crocodilian” order possess the ability of their eggs to predict the gender of their progeny at specific temperatures, which is called Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination (TSD) of eggs.

Among vertebrates, especially reptiles, temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD), in which the environment’s temperature affects the embryo’s sex development, is a common non-genetic mechanism. TSD is present in all crocodilians, the majority of turtles, numerous fish, and several lizards.

The enzyme aromatase is one contributor to TSD. Sex steroids are a class of hormones that affect sex development and reproduction. Aromatase aids in converting androgens, the male sex hormone, to estrogens, the female sex hormone. Male traits will develop in reptiles with low aromatase levels during the thermosensitive phase. The development of feminine traits results from increased female hormone synthesis brought on by high levels of aromatase activity.

Male progeny will be produced if crocodile eggs are matured at 89.6 to 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit (32–33 Celsius). Females will develop if the temperature is above or below this range.

However, American Alligator embryos incubated at 34 C (93.2 F) or higher will create largely male offspring, whereas embryos incubated at or below 30 C (86 F) will develop mostly female offspring.

Similar Heart Structure

Members of the order Crocodilia have four chambers in their hearts, compared to the three chambers in reptiles’ hearts. Similar to the circulatory pattern in birds and mammals, the crocodilian heart is entirely segmented into two atria and ventricles. But in addition to the systemic aorta (right aorta), which exits the left ventricle, there is also a second aorta (left aorta), which comes from the right ventricle next to the common pulmonary artery.

Like others, they have a four-chambered heart, which helps them maintain their oxygenated and deoxygenated blood separate more effectively when they stay underwater for a long time.

Old Genus

Crocodiles and alligators originated from the Crocodilia animal family and reptile species. Alligators and crocodiles share common ancestors that originally appeared 200 million years ago, and both have endured for the subsequent 55 million years with little modification. This indicates that creatures quite similar to alligators and crocodiles have lived since the time of the dinosaurs. Furthermore, both animal species have not undergone significant evolutionary change since they initially appeared, with a few minor exceptions.

Fun Facts:

  • Deinosuchus, or the “dreadful crocodile,” was a notable extinct crocodile. This species’ solitary fossil was a large skull discovered in Texas that was more than 2 meters (6.6 feet) long. Based on the size of its skull, scientists estimate that this massive predator was 15 m (49 ft) long and could have eaten most of the dinosaurs alive at the time.
  • Compared to other reptiles, the 23 current species of crocodilians have mostly stayed the same since the advent of their prehistoric forebears, yet they are still technologically advanced. For instance, crocodilians have effective four-chambered hearts, unlike other living reptiles (like birds and mammals).

Slow Metabolism

Because they don’t require energy to control their body temperatures internally, crocodiles and alligators have extremely slow metabolisms.

Crocodiles may go into aestivation in arid environments. Aestivation differs from hibernation in that it is triggered by hot, dry conditions rather than a cold environment. Crocodiles retreat to caverns or caves during aestivation to endure unfavorable weather. They occasionally enclose themselves in a mud cocoon, barely allowing their snout to protrude. In this condition, a crocodile can go up to two months without water and up to two years without food.

Similar to crocodiles, alligators typically feed once each week. However, they can survive for up to a year without food.

Alligators go into a brumation stage in the winter. In contrast to hibernation, brumation involves no sleep for the animal. However, they stop eating, and their metabolism slows down. However, they continue to drink, and they will come out of their burrows on bright days to enjoy the sun’s warmth.

Conclusion

Crocodiles and alligators may share a similar exterior and appear the same, yet they are two completely different species and belong to different families. Although they share the same order, “Crocodilia.” As the two species have their differences, they also share some similarities.

The simplest method to develop compassion for an animal is to educate yourself about it. We’ve covered some intriguing crocodile and alligator facts above.

FAQs

Are Crocodiles and Alligators The Same?

Alligators can be distinguished from crocodiles by their more pointed or V-shaped snouts, which are more U-shaped. Alligators are also black, whereas crocodiles are typically a paler shade of greyish brown.

What Are the Two Differences Between a Crocodile and an Alligator?

Compared to alligators, crocodiles typically have proportionately longer humerus bones in the forelegs and longer femur bones in the hind legs.

Crocodiles only have webbed back feet, but alligators have webbed front and rear feet.

Can an Alligator and a Crocodile Mate?

Because they are members of different subspecies, crocodiles and alligators cannot interbreed because their genetics is too dissimilar for reproduction.

Which is Stronger Alligator or Crocodile?

The crocodile would prevail in a fight if the largest members of each species were pitted against each other. Alligators are faster on land and in the water. Still, a crocodile’s size, strength, and pure aggressiveness offer them a competitive advantage that an alligator cannot match, which makes them stronger than the other.

Which are Bigger, Alligators or Crocodiles?

Both crocodiles and alligators are enormous reptiles; however, on average, crocodiles are bigger than alligators.

Alligators typically weigh 230 kg and can reach lengths of 3 to 4.5 meters. Crocodiles can grow to a length of 5.5 meters and weigh approximately 1 tonne.

Author: Syed Hasan

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References :

+ Bingham, L., & Bingham, P. (2022, June 21). Alligator vs crocodile: 15 differences and 9 similarities. Krebs Creek. https://krebscreek.com/alligator-vs-crocodile-the-differences-and-similarities

+ Chad Stetson (2018, March 13). Alligator & Crocodile Similarities. (n.d.). Sciencing. https://sciencing.com/alligator-crocodile-similarities-8626864.html

+ Moeller, Karla T., Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination in Reptiles | The Embryo Project Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Embryo.asu.edu. https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/temperature-dependent-sex-determination-reptiles#:~:text=All%20crocodilians%2C%20most%20turtles%2C%20many%20fish%2C%20and%20some

+ Kyle Harmon (2015, June 25) Differences and Similarities of Alligators and Crocodiles. (n.d.). Prezi.com. https://prezi.com/3s9nta7rsc3v/differences-and-similarities-of-alligators-and-crocodiles/

+ Nilsson S. The crocodilian heart and central hemodynamics. Cardioscience. 1994 Sep;5(3):163-6. PMID: 7827252.

 

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