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large aquatic reptile of the genus Alligator, in the same order as the crocodile. 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.
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the common name for three genera of reptiles (Caiman, Melanosuchus, and Paleosuchus) of the family Alligatoridae. They are distinguished from true alligators by the absence of a bony septum in the olfactory cavity and the presence of a bony abdominal shell. There are five species, found in bodies of water in Central and South America.
The largest is the black caiman (Melanosuchus niger), which reaches a length of 4-5 m. It is found in the Amazon River basin. The female lays 30-40 eggs (each up to 9 cm) in a depression in moist soil near water. The black caiman feeds mainly on fish, but also eats waterfowl, marsh birds, and mammals. It will often attack small cattle, particularly during flash floods in semi-inundated pasture lands.