American Alligator By: Ashleigh Carrera

Introduction:

Common name: American Alligator. Scientific name: alligator mississippiensis. Description: The alligator is a reptile, that is a carnivore they live in swamps and ponds. Their attitude is very aggressive towards their prey and predators with rough skin and sharp teeth to protect themselves.

This picture shows the alligator in its natural habitat.

Classification: kingdom: animalia. Phylum: chordata. Class: reptilia, Order: crocodylia, Family: alligatoridae, Genus/Species: Alligator-origin of lizard, mississippiensis- belonging to the mississippi river. Habitat Description: The alligators are found in both natural and man made freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers and wetland areas. These types of reptiles mostly live in warm climates like Florida or places that are tropical. The american alligator first appeared in the Paleocene era about 37 million years ago.

Morphological and Molecular evidence: The two closet reptiles to the american alligator are the caimans and crocodiles but some other reptiles like lizards take after the alligators appearance in outer skin and defenses. The caiman is not as big as an alligator but comes from the same alligator family. They both show a rounded nose, their teeth are very dagger like along with having the same diets and their habitats are similar. And lastly the crocodile and alligator look almost the same as the crocodile has the same rigged and tough body structure, the alligator evolves from the crocodile. They both eat fish and land animals and share the same habitats.

At the top is the crocodile, then the caiman and lastly the alligator.

Alligators come from crocodile- they share the same features and habitats. Reptiles like crocodiles that existed during the era when dinosaurs existed they use to be land animals but as time progressed and their environments started changing so did they. The crocodiles had to adapt to their new habitats and that's how alligators evolved because the became land/water animals.

Homologous structures: Small reptiles like lizards show this rough and scaly skin and can live in water and land but their jaws can not work as good as the alligator. Also a major difference is their sizes they aren't as big as the alligator and their tails are way shorter. Another reptile that has the same structure is the gharial, this animal has a more narrow jaw and bigger in size but is related to the crocodile with the long tail but still has the same diets as the alligator but it uses its jaw and body mass more. What a homologous structure is and what evidence it provides is, its organs that appear in different animals but has the same purpose. The evolution in alligators comes from crocodile and are easily pointed out in their tough skin structure and the large jaw and long tail.

Vestigial Structures: Forelimbs this comes from the common ancestors as humans and its not that useful to the alligators who have claws and webbed feet. What a vestigial structure is an organ that has come from previous ancestors but has lost much of its function with the animals evolving new structures that replaces its functions. This is evidence showing alligators needed that in their arms to be able to walk around and get their prey but have grown longer webbed feet with sharp claws to adapt to their new environment.

Transitional Fossils: Scientists were in South America, while digging in the Panama Canal and discovered fossils of crocodilians which are the ancient relatives of alligators. This shows how alligators evolved into caimans, that now live in South America. This animals history reveals a common ancestor between the caiman and alligators, which is the crocodile. These fossils found are over 70 million years old, meaning the alligators ancestor left North America and crosses Central America before evolving into a Caiman.

In conclusion, alligators have developed from crocodiles over the years their stages of life went from only living on land to both and developed features. The alligators are from the reptile family and are born from eggs.

Credits:

Created with images by fxxu - "crocodile tooth reptile" • skeeze - "alligator head wildlife" • heymeadow - "Alligator" • nfocusdesign - "Gators" • _Yuki_K_ - "Machikanewani"

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