Crocodiles and alligators share many similarities and this is why most people can’t tell the difference between the two species. But here at I’m A Useless Info Junkie, loyal to our commitment of turning you into the most interesting person you know, we’ve gathered their four (4) major differences so you can always distinguish a crocodile form an alligator.
1. Different families
Let’s start with the obvious. Crocodiles and alligators belong to different families. Crocodiles are in the “crocodylidae” family while alligators in the “alligatoridae” family. There is also a third family called gavialidae, which contains the gharial.
2. The shape of the jaw
Perhaps the easiest way of telling crocodiles from alligators is by the shape of their jaw. Crocodiles have longer, pointed “V” shaped noses while alligators have wider “U” shaped noses:
3. Teeth placement
In alligators, the upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw hence, the teeth in the lower jaw are almost completely hidden when the mouth closes (see diagram A). In crocodiles, the upper and lower jaw are roughly the same, therefore the teeth in the lower jaw fit along the margin of the upper jaw (see diagram B).
4. Lingual salt glands
Crocodiles have functioning salt glands on their tongue; alligators don’t. This makes them more tolerant to life in saline water.
So now you know. Next time someone asks you the difference of the two species you can enlighten him with your useless info knowledge!
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