alligator


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Related to alligator: Chinese alligator

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.
References in classic literature ?
Guph saw there was no room for him to pass the alligator on the narrow bridge, so he called out to it:
Neither," snapped the alligator, clicking its cruel jaws together.
I expect he is, seeing he is always at home," replied the alligator.
The alligator turned to look over its shoulder, and at once Guph ran to the bridge and leaped over the sentinel's back before it could turn back again.
But Tom was now under water stabbing his alligator, and took no notice of the indignant departure of the young ladies.
Dried heads and other cured and mouldy portions of human carcasses impressed him no more than the dried alligators and dried fish that contributed to the festooning of Agno's dark abode.
They hastened onward, therefore, and were compelled to ford several rivers, not without danger, for they were infested with huge alligators from fifteen to eighteen feet long.
How low in the scale of nature this law of battle descends, I know not; male alligators have been described as fighting, bellowing, and whirling round, like Indians in a war-dance, for the possession of the females; male salmons have been seen fighting all day long; male stag-beetles often bear wounds from the huge mandibles of other males.
They are occasionally seen some hundred yards from the shore, swimming about; and Captain Collnett, in his Voyage says, "They go to sea in herds a-fishing, and sun themselves on the rocks; and may be called alligators in miniature.
On the sands in the middle of the stream, hippos and alligators sunned themselves side by side.
The imps will lie for hours, like sleeping alligators, brooding their deviltries in dreams and other craftiness, until such time as they see some real danger is at hand, and then they look to themselves the same as other mortals.
Not to mention all the people alive who have made inventions that won't act, and all the jobbers who job in all the jobberies jobbed; though these may be regarded as the Alligators of the Dismal Swamp, and are always lying by to drag the Golden Dustman under.