Alligator

An alligator is a crocodilian in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. The two living species are the American alligator (A. mississippiensis) and the Chinese alligator (A. sinensis). Additionally, several extinct species of alligator are known from fossil remains. Alligators first appeared during the Oligocene epoch about 37 million years ago.[1]

The name "alligator" is probably an anglicized form of el lagarto, the Spanish term for "the lizard", which early Spanish explorers and settlers in Florida called the alligator.[2] Later English spellings of the name included allagarta and alagarto.[3]

Alligators
Temporal range: Oligocene-Holocene, 37–0 Ma
Chinese+american alligators
An American alligator (top) and a Chinese alligator (bottom)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Crocodilia
Family: Alligatoridae
Subfamily: Alligatorinae
Genus: Alligator
Daudin, 1809
Type species
Alligator mississippiensis
Daudin, 1802 (originally Crocodylus)
Species

Description

An average adult American alligator's weight and length is 360 kg (790 lb) and 4 m (13 ft), but they sometimes grow to 4.4 m (14 ft) long and weigh over 450 kg (990 lb).[4] The largest ever recorded, found in Louisiana, measured 5.84 m (19.2 ft).[5] The Chinese alligator is smaller, rarely exceeding 2.1 m (7 ft) in length. Additionally, it weighs considerably less, with males rarely over 45 kg (100 lb).

Adult alligators are black or dark olive-brown with white undersides, while juveniles have strongly contrasting white or yellow marks which fade with age.[6]

No average lifespan for an alligator has been measured.[7] In 1937, an adult specimen was brought to the Belgrade Zoo in Serbia from Germany. It is now at least 80 years old.[8] Although no valid records exist about its date of birth, this alligator, officially named Muja, is considered the oldest alligator living in captivity.[9]

Extant Species

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
AmericanAlligator Alligator mississippiensis American alligator Texas to North Carolina, United States
ChineseAlligator Alligator sinensis Chinese alligator eastern China.

Fossils

Habitat

Alligator mississippiensis - Oasis Park - 13
Head
Alligator mississippiensis - Oasis Park - 12
Eye

Alligators are native to only the United States and China.[10][11]

American alligators are found in the southeast United States: all of Florida and Louisiana; the southern parts of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi; coastal South and North Carolina; East Texas, the southeast corner of Oklahoma, and the southern tip of Arkansas. According to the 2005 Scholastic Book of World Records, Louisiana has the largest alligator population.[12] The majority of American alligators inhabit Florida and Louisiana, with over a million alligators in each state. Southern Florida is the only place where both alligators and crocodiles live side by side.[13][14]

American alligators live in freshwater environments, such as ponds, marshes, wetlands, rivers, lakes, and swamps, as well as in brackish water.[15] When they construct alligator holes in the wetlands, they increase plant diversity and provide habitat for other animals during droughts.[16] They are, therefore, considered an important species for maintaining ecological diversity in wetlands.[17] Farther west, in Louisiana, heavy grazing by coypu and muskrat are causing severe damage to coastal wetlands. Large alligators feed extensively on coypu, and provide a vital ecological service by reducing coypu numbers.[18]

The Chinese alligator currently is found in only the Yangtze River valley and parts of adjacent provinces[11] and is extremely endangered, with only a few dozen believed to be left in the wild. Indeed, far more Chinese alligators live in zoos around the world than can be found in the wild. Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in southern Louisiana has several in captivity in an attempt to preserve the species. Miami MetroZoo in Florida also has a breeding pair of Chinese alligators.

Behavior

Large male alligators are solitary territorial animals. Smaller alligators can often be found in large numbers close to each other. The largest of the species (both males and females) defend prime territory; smaller alligators have a higher tolerance for other alligators within a similar size class.

Alligators move on land by two forms of locomotion referred to as "sprawl" and "high walk". The sprawl is a forward movement with the belly making contact with the ground and is used to transition to "high walk" or to slither over wet substrate into water. The high walk is an up on four limbs forward motion used for overland travel with the belly well up from the ground.[19] Alligators have also been observed to rise up and balance on their hind legs and semi-step forward as part of a forward or upward lunge. However they can not walk on their hind legs for long distances.[20][21][22]

Although the alligator has a heavy body and a slow metabolism, it is capable of short bursts of speed, especially in very short lunges. Alligators' main prey are smaller animals they can kill and eat with a single bite. They may kill larger prey by grabbing it and dragging it into the water to drown. Alligators consume food that cannot be eaten in one bite by allowing it to rot, or by biting and then spinning or convulsing wildly until bite-sized chunks are torn off. This is referred to as a "death roll". Critical to the alligator's ability to initiate a death roll, the tail must flex to a significant angle relative to its body. An alligator with an immobilized tail cannot perform a death roll.[23]

Most of the muscle in an alligator's jaw evolved to bite and grip prey. The muscles that close the jaws are exceptionally powerful, but the muscles for opening their jaws are comparatively weak. As a result, an adult human can hold an alligator's jaws shut bare-handed. It is common today to use several wraps of duct tape to prevent an adult alligator from opening its jaws when being handled or transported.[24]

Alligators are generally timid towards humans and tend to walk or swim away if one approaches. This has led some people to the practice of approaching alligators and their nests in a manner that may provoke the animals into attacking. In Florida, feeding wild alligators at any time is illegal. If fed, the alligators will eventually lose their fear of humans and will learn to associate humans with food, thereby becoming both a greater danger to people, and at greater risk from them.[25]

Diet

The type of food eaten by alligators depends upon their age and size. When young, alligators eat fish, insects, snails, crustaceans, and worms. As they mature, progressively larger prey is taken, including larger fish such as gar, turtles, and various mammals, particularly coypu and muskrat,[15] as well as birds, deer, and other reptiles.[26][27] Their stomachs also often contain gizzard stones. They will even consume carrion if they are sufficiently hungry. In some cases, larger alligators are known to ambush dogs, Florida panthers and black bears, making them the apex predator throughout their distribution. In this role as a top predator, it may determine the abundance of prey species, including turtles and coypu.[28][18] As humans encroach into their habitat, attacks are few but not unknown. Alligators, unlike the large crocodiles, do not immediately regard a human upon encounter as prey, but may still attack in self-defense if provoked.

Reproduction

Alligator eggs and young alligators
Alligator eggs and young
Alligator mississippiensis babies
Alligator juveniles
Crocnest
Alligators of various ages

Alligators generally mature at a length of 6 ft (1.8 m). The mating season is in late spring. In April and May, alligators form so-called "bellowing choruses". Large groups of animals bellow together for a few minutes a few times a day, usually one to three hours after sunrise. The bellows of male American alligators are accompanied by powerful blasts of infrasound.[29] Another form of male display is a loud head-slap.[30] In 2010, on spring nights alligators were found to gather in large numbers for group courtship, the so-called "alligator dances".[31]

In summer, the female builds a nest of vegetation where the decomposition of the vegetation provides the heat needed to incubate the eggs. The sex of the offspring is determined by the temperature in the nest and is fixed within seven to 21 days of the start of incubation. Incubation temperatures of 86 °F (30 °C) or lower produce a clutch of females; those of 93 °F (34 °C) or higher produce entirely males. Nests constructed on leaves are hotter than those constructed on wet marsh, so the former tend to produce males and the latter, females. The baby alligator's egg tooth helps it get out of its egg during hatching time. The natural sex ratio at hatching is five females to one male. Females hatched from eggs incubated at 86 °F (30 °C) weigh significantly more than males hatched from eggs incubated at 93 °F (34 °C).[32] The mother defends the nest from predators and assists the hatchlings to water. She will provide protection to the young for about a year if they remain in the area. Adult alligators regularly cannibalize younger individuals, though estimates of the rate of cannibalism vary widely.[33][34] In the past, immediately following the outlawing of alligator hunting, populations rebounded quickly due to the suppressed number of adults preying upon juveniles, increasing survival among the young alligators.

Anatomy

Alligators are similar to crocodiles and caimans; for their common characteristics and differences among them, see Crocodilia.
Albino Alligator in Water
A rare albino alligator swimming

Alligators, much like birds, have been shown to exhibit unidirectional movement of air through their lungs.[35] Most other amniotes are believed to exhibit bidirectional, or tidal breathing. For a tidal breathing animal, such as a mammal, air flows into and out of the lungs through branching bronchi which terminate in small dead-end chambers called alveoli. As the alveoli represent dead-ends to flow, the inspired air must move back out the same way it came in. In contrast, air in alligator lungs makes a circuit, moving in only one direction through the parabronchi. The air first enters the outer branch, moves through the parabronchi, and exits the lung through the inner branch. Oxygen exchange takes place in extensive vasculature around the parabronchi.[36]

Alligators have muscular, flat tails that propel them while swimming.

The two kinds of white alligators are albino and leucistic. These alligators are practically impossible to find in the wild. They could survive only in captivity and are few in number.[37][38] The Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans has leucistic alligators found in a Louisiana swamp in 1987.[38]

Human uses

Alligators are raised commercially for their meat and their skin, which when tanned is used for the manufacture of luggage, handbags, shoes, belts, and other leather items. Alligators also provide economic benefits through the ecotourism industry. Visitors may take swamp tours, in which alligators are a feature. Their most important economic benefit to humans may be the control of coypu and muskrats.[18]

Alligator meat is also consumed by humans.[39][40] In 2010, the Archbishop of New Orleans ruled that for purposes of Catholic church discipline in relation to abstention from meat, the flesh of the alligator is characterised as fish.[41]

Image gallery of extant species

Florida-Everglades National Park-3

Alligator in the Everglades National Park

Alligator Canberra Zoo

Alligator in the Canberra Zoo in Australia

See also

References

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  2. ^ American Heritage Dictionaries (2007). Spanish Word Histories and Mysteries: English Words That Come From Spanish. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 13–15. ISBN 9780618910540.
  3. ^ Morgan, G. S., Richard, F., & Crombie, R. I. (1993). The Cuban crocodile, Crocodylus rhombifer, from late quaternary fossil deposits on Grand Cayman. Caribbean Journal of Science, 29(3-4), 153-164. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-03-29. Retrieved 2014-03-28.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "American Alligator and our National Parks". eparks.org. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
  5. ^ "Alligator mississippiensis". alligatorfur.com. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
  6. ^ "Crocodilian Species – American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)". crocodilian.com.
  7. ^ Kaku, Michio (March 2011). Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny And Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100. Doubleday. pp. 150, 151. ISBN 978-0-385-53080-4.
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  9. ^ "The oldest alligator living in captivity". shekoos.wordpress.com. 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  10. ^ "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  11. ^ a b "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  12. ^ 2005 Scholastic Book of World Records
  13. ^ "Trappers catch crocodile in Lake Tarpon," Tampa Bay Times, July 12, 2013
  14. ^ "Species Profile: American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) – SREL Herpetology". uga.edu. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  15. ^ a b Dundee, H. A., and D. A. Rossman. 1989. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Louisiana. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.
  16. ^ Craighead, F. C., Sr. (1968). The role of the alligator in shaping plant communities and maintaining wildlife in the southern Everglades. The Florida Naturalist, 41, 2–7, 69–74.
  17. ^ Keddy, P.A. 2010. Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (2nd edition). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 497 p. Chapter 4.
  18. ^ a b c Keddy PA, Gough L, Nyman JA, McFalls T, Carter J, Siegnist J (2009). "Alligator hunters, pelt traders, and runaway consumption of Gulf coast marshes: a trophic cascade perspective on coastal wetland losses". pp. 115-133. In: Silliman BR, Grosholz ED, Bertness MD (editors) (2009). Human Impacts on Salt Marshes: A Global Perspective. Berkeley, California: University of California Press.
  19. ^ Reilly & Elias, Locomotion In Alligator Mississippiensis: Kinematic Effects Of Speed And Posture and Their Relevance To The Sprawling-to-Erect Paradigm The Journal of Experimental Biology 201, 2559–2574 (1998)
  20. ^ zooguy2 Alligator Leap Retrieved March 19, 2015
  21. ^ Answers to Some Nagging Questions The Washington Post, Kids Post Thursday, January 17, 2008, Retrieved March 19, 2015
  22. ^ Alligator Attacks White Ibis Chick & Jumps Vertically at Pinckney Island Karen Marts Video, retrieved Nov 29, 2015
  23. ^ Fish, Frank E.; Bostic, Sandra A.; Nicastro, Anthony J.; Beneski, John T. (2007). "Death roll of the alligator: mechanics of twist feeding in water" (PDF). The Journal of Experimental Biology. 210 (16): 2811–2818. doi:10.1242/jeb.004267. PMID 17690228. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-20.
  24. ^ Crocodilian Captive Care FAQ: How to properly handle/transport crocodilians etc.
  25. ^ Living with Alligators
  26. ^ Wolfe, J. L., D. K. Bradshaw, and R. H. Chabreck. 1987. Alligator feeding habits: New data and a review. Northeast Gulf Science 9: 1–8.
  27. ^ Gabrey, S. W. 2005. Impacts of the coypu removal program on the diet of American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) in south Louisiana. Report to Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, New Orleans.
  28. ^ Bondavalli, C., and R. E. Ulanowicz. 1998. Unexpected effects of predators upon their prey: The case of the American alligator. Ecosystems 2: 49–63.
  29. ^ "Can Animals Predict Disaster? - Listening to Infrasound | Nature". PBS. 2004-12-26. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
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  31. ^ Dinets, V. (2010). "Nocturnal behavior of the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) in the wild during the mating season" (PDF). Herpetological Bulletin. 111: 4–11.
  32. ^ Mark W. J. Ferguson; Ted Joanen (1982). "Temperature of egg incubation determines sex in Alligator mississippiensis". Nature. 296 (5860): 850–853. doi:10.1038/296850a0. PMID 7070524.
  33. ^ Rootes, William L.; Chabreck, Robert H. (30 September 1993). "Cannibalism in the American Alligator". Herpetologica. 49 (1): 99–107. JSTOR 3892690.
  34. ^ Delany, Michael F; Woodward, Allan R; Kiltie, Richard A; Moore, Clinton T (20 May 2011). "Mortality of American Alligators Attributed to Cannibalism". Herpetologica. 67 (2): 174–185. doi:10.1655/herpetologica-d-10-00040.1.
  35. ^ Farmer, C. G.; Sanders, K. (January 2010). "Unidirectional Airflow in the Lungs of Alligators". Science. 327 (5963): 338–340. doi:10.1126/science.1180219. PMID 20075253.
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  37. ^ "White albino alligators". softpedia.com. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
  38. ^ a b "Mississippi River Gallery".
  39. ^ International Food Information Service (2009). IFIS Dictionary of Food Science and Technology. John Wiley & Sons. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-4051-8740-4.
  40. ^ Martin, Roy E.; Carter, Emily Paine; Flick, George J., Jr.; Davis, Lynn M. (2000). Marine and Freshwater Products Handbook. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press. p. 277. ISBN 978-1-56676-889-4.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  41. ^ The Tablet, 22 March 2014 page 15

External links

Alligator Effigy Mound

The Alligator Effigy Mound is an effigy mound in Granville, Ohio, United States. The mound is believed to have been built between AD 800 and 1200 by people of the Fort Ancient culture. The mound was likely a ceremonial site, as it was not used for burials.

Located on privately owned land, Alligator Mound is one of two extant effigy mounds known in the present-day state of Ohio, along with Serpent Mound in Adams County, Ohio. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971. Effigy mounds were built more often by ancient indigenous peoples located in the areas of the present-day states of Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin than in the Ohio area, and many have survived there.

Alligator Island

Alligator Island is one of the many uninhabited Canadian Arctic islands in the Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut. It is a Baffin Island offshore island located in Frobisher Bay, southeast of the capital city of Iqaluit. Other islands in the immediate vicinity include Algerine Island, Camp Island, Culbertson Island, Frobisher's Farthest, Low Island, Mark Island, McAllister Island, McBride Island, Metela Island, Mitchell Island, Pan Island, Peak Island, Pink Lady Island, Precipice Island.

Alligator Pond

Alligator Pond is a fishing village on the southwestern coast of Jamaica in the parish of Manchester.Unlike the tourist-oriented coasts in the northern part of the country, Alligator Pond's shoreline is as much about work as play; here fishermen launch their boats to catch some of the island's best-regarded fish while women conduct the wholesale business of the catch. Weather-worn cookshops and bars line the sand's edge, supplying food staples such as curried goat and Red Stripe beer.

Alligator drum

The alligator drum is a type of drum once used in Neolithic China, made from clay and alligator hides.

Alligator drums have been found over a broad area at the Neolithic sites from modern Shandong in the east to Qinghai in the west, dating to a period of 5500–2350 BC. In literary records, drums manifested shamanistic characteristics and were often used in ritual ceremonies. Drums covered with alligator skin for ceremonial use are mentioned in the Shijing.During the Archaic period, alligators probably lived along the east coast of China, including southern Shandong. The earliest alligator drums, comprising a wooden frame covered with alligator skin, are found in the archaeological sites at Dawenkou (4100–2600 BC), as well as several sites of Longshan (3000–2000 BC) in Shandong and Taosi (2300– 1900 BC) in southern Shanxi.

Alligator gar

The alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) is a ray-finned euryhaline fish related to the bowfin in the infraclass Holostei . It is the largest species in the gar family, and among the largest freshwater fishes in North America. The fossil record traces its existence back to the Early Cretaceous over 100 million years ago. Gars are often referred to as "primitive fishes", or "living fossils" because they have retained some morphological characteristics of their earliest ancestors, such as a spiral valve intestine, which is also common to the digestive system of sharks, and the ability to breathe both air and water. Their common name was derived from their resemblance to the American alligator, particularly their broad snouts and long, sharp teeth. Anecdotal evidence suggests that an alligator gar can grow up to 10 ft (3.0 m) in length.

The body of an alligator gar is torpedo-shaped, usually brown or olive, fading to a lighter gray or yellow ventral surface. Their scales are not like the scales of other fishes; rather, they are ganoid scales, which are bone-like, rhomboidal-shaped scales, often with serrated edges, and covered by an enamel-like substance. Ganoid scales are nearly impenetrable and are excellent protection against predation. Unlike other gar species, the upper jaw of an alligator gar has a dual row of large, sharp teeth that are used to impale and hold prey. Alligator gar are stalking, ambush predators, primarily piscivores, but they also ambush and eat water fowl and small mammals they find floating on the water's surface.

Populations of alligator gar have been extirpated from much of their historic range as a result of habitat destruction, indiscriminate culling, and unrestricted harvests. Populations are now located primarily in the southern portions of the United States extending into Mexico. They are considered euryhaline because they can adapt to varying salinities ranging from freshwater lakes and swamps to brackish marshes, estuaries, and bays along the Gulf of Mexico.

For nearly a half century, alligator gar were considered "trash fish", or a "nuisance species" detrimental to sport fisheries, and were targeted for elimination by state and federal authorities in the United States. The 1980s brought a better understanding of the ecological balance necessary to sustain an ecosystem, and eventually an awareness that alligator gar were no less important than any other living organism in the ecosystems they inhabit. Over time, alligator gar were afforded some protection by state and federal resource agencies. They are also protected under the Lacey Act, which makes transporting certain species of fish in interstate commerce illegal when in violation of state law or regulation. Several state and federal resource agencies are monitoring populations in the wild, and have initiated outreach programs to educate the public. Alligator gar are being cultured in ponds, pools, raceways, and tanks by federal hatcheries for mitigation stocking, by universities for research purposes, and in Mexico for consumption.

Alligator pepper

Alligator pepper (also known as mbongo spice or hepper pepper) is a West African spice which corresponds to the seeds and seed pods of Aframomum danielli, A. citratum or A. exscapum. It is a close relative of grains of paradise, obtained from the closely related species, Aframomum melegueta. However, unlike grains of paradise which are generally sold as only the seeds of the plant, alligator pepper is sold as the entire pod containing the seeds (in the same manner to another close relative, black cardamom).

The plants which provide alligator pepper are herbaceous perennials of the ginger (Zingiberaceae) family of flowering plants, native to swampy habitats along the West African coast. Once the pod is open and the seeds are revealed, the reason for this spice's common English name becomes apparent as the seeds have a papery skin enclosing them and the bumps of the seeds within this skin is reminiscent of an alligator's back.

As mbongo spice, the seeds of alligator pepper are often sold as the grains isolated from the pod and with the outer skin removed. Mbongo spice is most commonly either A. danielli or A. citratum, and has a more floral aroma than A. exscapum (which is the commonest source of the entire pod).

It is a common ingredient in West African cuisine, where it imparts both pungency and a spicy aroma to soups and stews.

Alligator snapping turtle

The alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is a species of turtle in the family Chelydridae. The species is native to freshwater habitats in the United States. M. temminckii is one of the heaviest freshwater turtles in the world. It is often associated with, but not closely related to, the common snapping turtle, which is in the genus Chelydra. The specific epithet temminckii is in honor of Dutch zoologist Coenraad Jacob Temminck.

Alligatoridae

The family Alligatoridae of crocodylians includes alligators and caimans.

American alligator

The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), sometimes referred to colloquially as a gator or common alligator, is a large crocodilian reptile endemic to the Southeastern United States. It is one of two living species in the genus Alligator within the family Alligatoridae; it is larger than the other extant alligator species, the Chinese alligator.

Adult male American alligators measure 11 to 15 ft (3.4 to 4.6 m) in length, and can weigh up to 999 lb (453 kg). Females are smaller, measuring 8.5 to 10 ft (2.6 to 3.0 m) in length. The American alligator inhabits freshwater wetlands, such as marshes and cypress swamps from Texas to southeastern and coastal Virginia. It is distinguished from the sympatric American crocodile by its broader snout, with overlapping jaws and darker coloration, and is less tolerant of saltwater but more tolerant of cooler climates than the American crocodile, which is found only in tropical climates.

American alligators are apex predators and consume fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Hatchlings feed mostly on invertebrates. They play an important role as ecosystem engineers in wetland ecosystems through the creation of alligator holes, which provide both wet and dry habitats for other organisms. Throughout the year, in particular during the breeding season, American alligators bellow to declare territory and locate suitable mates. Male American alligators use infrasound to attract females. Eggs are laid in a nest of vegetation, sticks, leaves, and mud in a sheltered spot in or near the water. Young are born with yellow bands around their bodies and are protected by their mother for up to one year.The conservation status of the American alligator is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Historically, hunting had decimated their population, and the American alligator was listed as an endangered species by the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Subsequent conservation efforts have allowed their numbers to increase and the species was removed from endangered status in 1987. American alligators are now harvested for their skins and meat. The species is the official state reptile of three states: Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo

The Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo is a privately owned zoo located on Whittington Avenue in Hot Springs, Arkansas.The farm raises alligators and has done so since it was founded in 1902. The farm includes a small museum with a collection of mounted alligators, a souvenir shop and a snack bar. It includes the mummified carcass purporting to be a "Merman", similar to ones held in Ripley's Believe It or Not! museums.The main alligator pit contains a small headstone, a memorial to somebody's fox terrier that was killed by alligators on that spot in 1906.

Avocado

The avocado (Persea americana), a tree with probable origin in South Central Mexico, is classified as a member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae. The fruit of the plant, also called an avocado (or avocado pear or alligator pear), is botanically a large berry containing a single large seed.Avocados are commercially valuable and are cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean climates throughout the world. They have a green-skinned, fleshy body that may be pear-shaped, egg-shaped, or spherical. Commercially, they ripen after harvesting. Avocado trees are partially self-pollinating, and are often propagated through grafting to maintain predictable fruit quality and quantity. In 2017, Mexico produced 34% of the world supply of avocados.

Chinese alligator

The Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis, simplified Chinese: 扬子鳄; traditional Chinese: 揚子鱷; pinyin: yángzǐ'è), also known as the Yangtze alligator, China alligator, or historically the muddy dragon, is a critically endangered crocodilian endemic to China. It and the American alligator are the only living species in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. Dark gray or black in color with a fully armored body, the Chinese alligator grows to 1.5–2.1 metres (5–7 ft) in length and weighs 36–45 kilograms (80–100 lb) as an adult. It brumates in burrows in winter and is nocturnal in summer. Mating occurs in early summer, with females most commonly producing 20–30 eggs, which are smaller than those of any other crocodilian. The species is an opportunistic feeder, primarily eating fish and invertebrates. A vocal species, adults bellow during the mating season and young vocalize to communicate with their parents and other juveniles. Captive specimens have reached age 70, and wild specimens can live to over 50.

Living in bodies of fresh water, the Chinese alligator's range is restricted to six regions in the province of Anhui, as well as possibly the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang. Originally living as far away from its current range as Japan, the species previously had a wide range and population, but beginning in 5000 BC, multiple threats, such as habitat destruction, caused the species' population and range to decline. The population in the wild was about 1000 in the 1970s, decreased to below 130 in 2001, and grew after 2003, with its population being about 300 as of 2017. Listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, multiple conservation actions have been taking place for this species. Several breeding facilities, both in China and foreign countries, have bred specimens in captivity and sometimes released them back into the wild.

The Chinese alligator has been a part of Chinese literature since the third century. In the late 1200s, Marco Polo became the first person outside of China to write about it. In some writings, the Chinese alligator has been associated with the Chinese dragon. Many pieces of evidence suggest that the Chinese alligator was the inspiration for the Chinese dragon.

Crocodile farm

A crocodile farm or alligator farm is an establishment for breeding and raising of crocodilians in order to produce crocodile and alligator meat, leather from crocodile skin, and other goods. Many species of both alligators and crocodiles are farmed internationally. In Louisiana alone, alligator farming is a $60 to $70 million industry.

Crocodilia

Crocodilia (or Crocodylia) is an order of mostly large, predatory, semiaquatic archosaurian reptiles, known as crocodilians. They first appeared 95 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous period (Cenomanian stage) and are the closest living relatives of birds, as the two groups are the only known survivors of the Archosauria. Members of the order's total group, the clade Pseudosuchia, appeared about 250 million years ago in the Early Triassic period, and diversified during the Mesozoic era. The order Crocodilia includes the true crocodiles (family Crocodylidae), the alligators and caimans (family Alligatoridae), and the gharial and false gharial (family Gavialidae). Although the term 'crocodiles' is sometimes used to refer to all of these, crocodilians is a less ambiguous vernacular term for members of this group.

Large, solidly built, lizard-like reptiles, crocodilians have long flattened snouts, laterally compressed tails, and eyes, ears, and nostrils at the top of the head. They swim well and can move on land in a "high walk" and a "low walk", while smaller species are even capable of galloping. Their skin is thick and covered in non-overlapping scales. They have conical, peg-like teeth and a powerful bite. They have a four-chambered heart and, somewhat like birds, a unidirectional looping system of airflow within the lungs, but like other reptiles they are ectotherms.

Crocodilians are found mainly in lowlands in the tropics, but alligators also live in the southeastern United States and the Yangtze River in China. They are largely carnivorous, the various species feeding on animals such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs, birds, and mammals; some species like the Indian gharial are specialised feeders, while others like the saltwater crocodile have generalised diets. Crocodilians are typically solitary and territorial, though cooperative feeding does occur. During breeding, dominant males try to monopolise available females. Females lay eggs in holes or in mounds and, unlike most other reptiles, care for their hatched young.

Some species of crocodilians are known to have attacked humans. The largest number of attacks comes from the Nile crocodile. Humans are the greatest threat to crocodilian populations through activities that include hunting and habitat destruction, but farming of crocodilians has greatly reduced unlawful trading in wild skins. Artistic and literary representations of crocodilians have appeared in human cultures around the world since at least Ancient Egypt. The earliest known mention of the story that crocodiles weep for their victims was in the 9th century; it was later spread by Sir John Mandeville in 1400 and then by William Shakespeare in the late 16th century and early 17th century.

Interstate 75 in Florida

Interstate 75 (I-75) is a part of the Interstate Highway System and runs from the Hialeah–Miami Lakes border, a few miles northwest of Miami, to Sault Ste. Marie in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I-75 begins its national northward journey near Miami, running along the western parts of the Miami metropolitan area before traveling westward across Alligator Alley (also known as Everglades Parkway), resuming its northward direction in Naples, running along Florida's Gulf Coast, passing the cities of Fort Myers, Punta Gorda, Venice, Sarasota, and the Tampa Bay Area, before turning inward towards Ocala, Gainesville, and Lake City before leaving the state and entering Georgia. I-75 runs for 471 miles (758 km) in Florida, making it the longest interstate in any state east of the Mississippi River. The interstate maintains a speed limit of 70 mph (110 km/h) for its entire length in Florida.

The portion of I-75 from Tampa northward was a part of the original 1955 Interstate Highway plans, with I-75's southern terminus at I-4's current western terminus. Planning to extend the interstate south to Miami began in 1968 after massive growth in Southwest Florida, which resulted in I-75 being realigned to travel on the eastern fringes of the Tampa Bay area, and the last portion of the highway was opened in 1993.

For FDOT inventory purposes, it is designated as State Road 93 (SR 93) for most of its length in Florida (with exception to the Tampa Bay area, where SR 93 follows I-275, while SR 93A travels with I-75 in the latter's bypass of the area).

Lake City, Florida

Lake City is the county seat of Columbia County, Florida, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 12,046. It is the principal city of the Lake City Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is composed of Columbia County, and had a 2010 population of 67,531. Lake City is 60 miles west of Jacksonville.Lake City first began as the town of Alligator in 1821 near the Seminole settlement known as Alligator Village. Alligator became the seat of Columbia County in 1832 when it was formed from Duval and Alachua counties. In 1858 Alligator was incorporated and renamed Lake City. The largest American Civil War battle in Florida took place near here in the Battle of Olustee in 1864; the Confederates won. In 1884 the Florida Agricultural College was established in Lake City as a land grant college; it was relocated to Gainesville in 1905 to form part of the University of Florida. The city's sesquicentennial was held in 2009.Lake City is known as "The Gateway to Florida" because it is adjacent to the intersection of Interstate 75 and Interstate 10. The city is the site of Lake City Gateway Airport, formerly known as NAS Lake City. Florida Gateway College is located in Lake City.

List of fatal alligator attacks in the United States

This is a list of fatal alligator attacks in the United States in reverse chronological order by decade. All occurred in the Southeast, where alligators are endemic to wetlands and tidal marshes.

The Independent Florida Alligator

The Independent Florida Alligator is the daily student newspaper of the University of Florida. The Alligator is the largest student-run newspaper in the United States, with a daily circulation of 35,000 and readership of over 52,000. It is an affiliate of UWIRE, which distributes and promotes its content to their network.

The paper prints every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the spring and fall semesters (mid-August to early May) and on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the summer semesters. The Alligator has been financially and editorially independent from the university since 1973. The Alligator has been owned by non-profit, student-controlled 501(c)(3) Campus Communications Inc. since its independence. Students from both UF and Santa Fe College, also located in the city of Gainesville, Florida, are allowed to work at the paper. Only college students are allowed to work in the editorial department or be advertising representatives or interns.The Alligator is distributed free on campus and around the city of Gainesville, Florida, and contains a mix of campus and local news coverage, as well as national and international stories from wire services. It also contains a sports section that begins from the back of the tabloid-format paper, and an entertainment section ("The Avenue") published every Thursday. The Alligator prints on 11 x 14 inch paper, somewhat smaller than a tabloid size, closer in size to the compact format of The Times of London and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Wilhelm scream

The Wilhelm scream is a stock sound effect that has been used in at least 416 films and TV series (as of July 2015), beginning in 1951 for the film Distant Drums. The scream is often used when someone is shot, falls from a great height, or is thrown from an explosion.

Voiced by actor and singer Sheb Wooley, the sound is named after Private Wilhelm, a character in The Charge at Feather River, a 1953 Western in which the character gets shot in the thigh with an arrow. This was its first use from the Warner Bros. stock sound library, although The Charge at Feather River is believed to have been the third film to use the effect.The effect gained new popularity (its use often becoming an in-joke) after it was used in the Star Wars series, the Indiana Jones series, Disney, Pixar and many other blockbuster films, as well as many television programs, cartoons, and video games.

Extant Crocodilian species
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