alligator

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alligator,

large aquatic reptile of the genus Alligator, in the same order as the crocodilecrocodile,
large, carnivorous reptile of the order Crocodilia, found in tropical and subtropical regions. Crocodiles live in swamps or on river banks and catch their prey in the water. They have flattened bodies and tails, short legs, and powerful jaws.
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. There are two species—a large type found in the S United States and a small type found in E China. Alligators differ from crocodiles in several ways. They have broader, blunter snouts, which give their heads a triangular appearance; also, the lower fourth tooth does not protrude when the mouth is closed, as it does in the crocodile.

The American alligator, Alligator mississipiensis, is found in swamps and sluggish streams from North Carolina to Florida and along the Gulf Coast. When young, it is dark brown or black with yellow transverse bands. The bands fade as the animal grows, and the adult is black. Males commonly reach a length of 10 to 13 ft (3 to 4 m) and an average weight of 500 lbs (225 kg); females are smaller (8.2 ft/2.6 m). Males 18 ft (5.4 m) long were once fairly common, but intensive hunting for alligator leather eliminated larger individuals and threatened the species as a whole. The wild American alligator is now protected by law, but it is also raised on farms for commercial uses.

Alligators spend the day floating just below the surface of the water or resting on the bank, lying in holes in hot weather. They hunt by night, in the water and on the bank. Young alligators feed on water insects, crustaceans, frogs, and fish; as they grow they catch proportionally larger animals. Large alligators may occasionally capture deer and cows as they come to drink; they do not commonly attack humans. Alligators hibernate from October to March. In summer the female builds a nest of rotting vegetation on the bank and deposits in it 20 to 70 eggs, which she guards for 9 to 10 weeks until they hatch.

The Chinese alligator, A. sinensis, which grows to about 6 ft (1.8 m) long, is found in the Chang (Yangtze) River valley near Shanghai. This species is nearly extinct. Caimans are similar, but distinct members of the Alligatoridae family found in Central and South America. There are several species, classified in three genera. The largest grow up to 15 ft (4.8 m) long. Unlike alligators, caimans have bony overlapping scales on their bellies. Baby caimans are often sold in the United States as baby alligators.

Alligators and caimans are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Crocodilia, family Alligatoridae.

alligator

[′al·ə‚gād·ər]
(vertebrate zoology)
Either of two species of archosaurian reptiles in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae.

alligator

1. a large crocodilian, Alligator mississipiensis, of the southern US, having powerful jaws and sharp teeth and differing from the crocodiles in having a shorter and broader snout: family Alligatoridae (alligators and caymans)
2. a similar but smaller species, A. sinensis, occurring in China near the Yangtse River
3. any crocodilian belonging to the family Alligatoridae
4. any of various tools or machines having adjustable toothed jaws, used for gripping, crushing, or compacting

Alligator

(dreams)
This cold-blooded animal could hold several different meanings in your dream. It could symbolically represent something from your memory, emotions, or a current situation or individual in your life. Some think that the alligator represents verbal power used in a destructive way (angry and hurtful words). Others believe that it represents an enemy. Consider the details in your dream and your level of fear. This dream symbol should encourage you to look at some of your more “dangerous” emotions, memories, and experiences. The alligators in your dreams will begin to lose the power to frighten you as your understanding increases. Carl Jung said that all wild animals indicate latent affects (feelings and emotions that we do not readily deal with). They are also symbolic of dangers (hurtful and negative things) being “swallowed” by the unconscious.