Crocodiles and alligators are two reptiles that are often mistaken for each other. One of the most common questions alligator and crocodile researchers face today is what the differences are between the two. Although these reptiles favor in physical features, there are numerous differences.
The first three differences between the alligator and crocodile are not in physical appearance. These differences are in their subfamilies, number of species, and the origination of their names. Although the alligator and crocodile are both reptiles, the alligator belongs to the alligatorinae subfamily and the crocodile to the crocodylinae subfamily. The alligator and crocodile also differ in their number of species. The alligator has only two different species while the crocodile has twenty- three. The origination’s of their names also come from different phrases and words. The name alligator comes from the Spanish phrase “el lagar to” and the name crocodile comes from the Greek word “Krokodeilos.”
The alligator and crocodile are different in size and snout shape. The average crocodile tends to grow eighteen to nineteen feet in length and the alligator grows to an average of fourteen to fifteen feet in length. The alligator also has a wide “U” shaped snout. Their snouts are very strong, and are capable of withstanding the great crushing power for cracking open turtles and hard-shelled invertebrates. The crocodile has a longer, more pointed “V” shaped snout. Their snouts are not quite as strong as the alligators, but are still able of exerting massive biting power.
Other differences between the crocodile and alligator are salt glands, sensory pits, and their skin. Functioning salt glands on the tongue are only found on crocodiles. The alligator lacks these salt glands along with small, sensory pits covering the entire body surface