Tail Regeneration in Alligators

Alligator is a ‘Crocodilian’ species. They are large semi-aquatic and predatory reptiles. The species first appeared around 37 million years ago. The word “alligator” is a modification of the Spanish word el lagarto which means lizard.

Key Points

  • At present, there are only two species of alligators exist namely the American alligator and the Chinese alligator, native to the United States, México, and China.
  • These are considered the most important species for maintaining ecological diversity in wetlands because their holes provide habitat for other animals during drought.
  • The average weight of an American Alligator is 360 kg and their average height is 4m. Chinese alligators are smaller than American ones. The average weight of Chinese male alligators is over 45 kg.
  • American Alligators live in freshwater bodies like rivers, ponds, lakes, marshes, swamps, wetlands, etc.
  • The Chinese alligator is presently found in the Yangtze River valley and adjacent provinces only. They are extremely endangered.
  • The Alligators also have their commercial use and their skin and meat are used in the manufacturing handbags, belts, shoes, etc.

Alligators can regenerate their tails

  • Recently, a study has found that the alligators can also sacrifice and regrow their tails just like small reptiles like geckos, lizards.
  • Young American alligators (Binomial name-Alligator mississippiensis) can regrow up to 18 percent of their total body length back, about 23 cm in length.
  • However, unlike lizards which form new tails with muscles, these species form tails without muscles.
  • American Alligators have been declared as endangered species by the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Endangered Species Act of 1973

This act is the key law that protects imperiled species in the United States. The act was signed into law by then American President Nixon on 28th December 1973.

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