A face only a mother alligator could love. Yet, a remarkable critter:
- “The species, scientists say, is more than 150 million years old, managing to avoid extinction 65 million years ago when their prehistoric contemporaries, the dinosaurs, died off.”
- “Males average 10 to 15 feet in length and can weigh 1,000 pounds. Females grow to a maximum of about 9.8 feet.”
- Male American alligators use infrasound to attract females. Eggs are laid in a nest of vegetation, sticks, leaves, and mud in a sheltered spot in or near the water. Young are born with yellow bands around their bodies and are protected by their mother for up to one year.
- By balancing sticks and branches on their heads American alligators have been documented using lures to hunt prey such as birds. This means they are among the first reptiles recorded to use tools. *
Alligators have been well researched . . . and it was assumed there wasn’t much more to learn, until a discovery was made almost entirely on accident when the remains of an alligator that had regenerated part of its tail were found by researchers.
New research now reveals that juvenile alligators are capable of regrowing large portions of their tail if they lose it to a predator or other danger.
The finding is surprising, as some lizard species are known to have regenerative abilities but American alligators weren’t thought to have that ability.
“In a new research paper published in Scientific Reports, scientists reveal that juvenile American alligators appear to have the ability to regenerate portions of their tails if they have them severed by a predator or due to some other form of injury. It’s a remarkable finding that demonstrates that even some of the most well-understood spaces on the planet may still have some secrets to reveal.”
“The regrowth of limbs is something that isn’t uncommon in the world of reptiles. Many smaller lizards have the ability to regrow their lost limbs. It’s an invaluable tool when escaping predators, and creatures like geckos can regrow multiple tails, even regrowing the spinal cord that extends into the tail, and they can do it in as little as a month.”
“However, the ability to regrow limbs has been thought to be something that was reserved for much smaller species. An American alligator is a very large creature and even as a juvenile, they are typically larger than the kinds of lizards that are known to have the ability to regrow their limbs. However, after an alligator tail was sent to a team of researchers at Arizona State University, a team of scientists was able to determine that its tip had in fact regrown.”
“As is often the case with limbs that are regrown, the tail was slightly discolored and its scales were significantly smaller than they should have been, based on the age of the animal it came from. Using x-ray scanning and an MRI machine to get an inside look at the tail structure before slicing it open themselves, the researchers were able to determine that the tail was regrown.”
“We saw a lot of similarities between regenerated alligator tails and lizard tails, including the presence of a cartilaginous structure, the scale patterning, and the coloration. We also saw the regrowth of peripheral nerves and blood vessels,” Cindy Xu, lead author of the study, said in a statement.”
This is one area that alligators have a leg up . . . er . . .
tail up on humans.