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Mississippi Alligator

Alligator mississippiensis

This beautiful creature is a true living fossil. Not as ancient as its larger, more aggressive cousin, the crocodile, the alligator still predates the dinosaurs by several million years. But just look at the neck on this beast. It's heavily muscled, giving it the ability to shake and dismember even the largest of prey. Combined with those interlocking jaws with their razor-sharp teeth, that neck makes the alligator a pretty efficient killing machine. A lot of that neck, though, is throat. Alligators have a very deep, resonant growl, which is instantly recognizable. Believe me, you'll know it when you hear it. It's unlike anything else on Earth.

Alligators are better adapted to ambush hunting than crocodiles. See how the nose and eyes sit so much farther above the head than on a crocodile? This lets the alligator rest just under the surface, lying in wait for hours until some unfortunate wanders by. And who are these unlucky innocents, who so haplessly wander into the jaws of death? Generally, frogs, waterfowl, snakes, anything small enough to fit down the alligator's throat. Alligators are placid, preferring an easy feed to a prolonged battle. Only in times of extreme duress will an alligator attack larger prey, like wild pigs, deer, or even cattle.

As well as being sweeter of disposition, alligators are also more durable than crocodiles. Alligators are able to endure the relative harshness of the sub-tropical winter by hibernating, buried in mud. There are even reports of alligators surviving at the bottoms of frozen lakes. Crocodiles would certainly die under such conditions, and thus are limited to the tropics. But the alligators can

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