What is the difference between Alligators,
crocodiles and caymans?
Alligators and crocodiles are in the Order Crocodilae, but in different
families. Caymans are included in the alligator family. A good way to tell
them apart is by their noses. Alligators and caymans have a "U" shaped nose,
whereas Crocs have "V" shaped nose. The teeth also show a
difference...alligators show their front teeth when their mouths are closed
and crocs show both upper and lower teeth when their mouths are closed.
Crocs have a lingual salt gland on their tongue, an area that can secrete
excess salt out of their body. This makes them more adapted to live in
saltwater environments where alligators and caymans prefer freshwater. Both
have little black bumps on them called DPRs (dermal pressure receptors).
These bumps can detect small pressure changes in the water helping the
animal to find and capture its prey. Alligators and caymans only have these
on their lower jaw while crocs have them all over their body. Since
alligators and caymans are so closely related, they both have bony plates
called scutes under their skin which helps to reinforce and strengthen it.
The alligator does not have these on it's stomache whereas the cayman does.
I hope this answers your question!
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Update: June 2012