Dictionary > Alligator

Alligator

Definition
noun, plural: alligators
A large crocodilian species of the subfamily Alligatorinae
Supplement
Alligatoridae is a family comprised of two sub-families: (1) Alligatorinae (true alligators) and (2) Caimaninae (caimans). The subfamily Alligatorinae has ten known genera. However, only one of them is extant, i.e. the genus Alligator. The other nine genera are already extinct, i.e. Chrysochampsa, Hassiacosuchus, Navajosuchus, Ceratosuchus, Allognathosuchus, Arambourgia, Procaimanoidea, Wannaganosuchus, and Krabisuchus. The genus Alligator or simply alligators are large carnivorous reptiles. There are two known species of alligators, i.e. A. mississippiensis (common alligator) and A. sinensis (Yangtze alligator). Morphologically, alligators have a shorter and broader snout than the crocodile, thus, shaped like a letter U, and the large teeth of the lower jaw shut into pits in the upper jaw, which has no marginal notches.
Caimans are a closely related species that also belong in the family Alligatorinae. Other references consider them as alligators. However, the species of the subfamily Alligatorinae are regarded as the true alligators. The caimans differ from alligators in lacking a bony septum between nostrils. They are also more agile and have longer, sharper teeth.1
Word origin: Spanish el lagarto ‎(“the lizard”), from Latin lacertus ‎(“lizard”)
Scientific classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Superorder: Crocodylomorpha
  • Order: Crocodilia
  • Family: Alligatoridae
  • Subfamily: Alligatorinae
  • Genus: Alligator Daudin, 1809

Scientific name:

  • Alligator spp.
  • Other common name(s):

    • gator

    See also:

  • crocodilian
  • Alligatoridae
  • crocodile
  • gharial
  • caiman
  • Related term(s):

    • Alligator mississippiensis
    • Alligator sinensis

    Reference(s):

    1 Guggisberg, C.A.W. (1972). Crocodiles: Their Natural History, Folklore, and Conservation. p. 195.


    You will also like...

    Golgi apparatus (3-D illustration)
    Role of Golgi Apparatus & Endoplasmic Reticulum in Protein Synthesis

    The endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus are the organelles involved in the translation step of protein synthesis a..

    Transpiration
    Water in Plants

    The movement of molecules (specifically, water and solutes) is vital to the understanding of plant processes. This tuto..

    running freshwater community
    Running Water Freshwater Community Factors

    This tutorial noted some of the physical and chemical factors that provide the framework of a running water community in..

    Human Neurology
    Human Neurology

    Human Neurology deals essentially with the nervous system of humans. It also features the various theories put forward b..

    IQ, Creativity and Learning
    IQ, Creativity and Learning

    Human intelligence provided the means to utilize abstract ideas and implement reasoning. This tutorial takes a further l..

    Endemic Flora of New Zealand
    New Zealand’s Unique Flora

    If New Zealand has lots of unique animals, it's also got a whole lot of unique plants. Find out more about some of them,..

    Related Articles...

    No related articles found

    See all Related Topics