Have you ever been out for a swim in the river, and all of a sudden, an alligator started swimming after you? Did you then say to yourself, “Is this a crocodile or an alligator trying to eat me?” If you have, then we’re here to help you with the difference between alligators and crocodiles and other similar animals. It’s easy to confuse animals such as an alligator or crocodile, or a toad and a frog. Be confused no further. Here’s a list of commonly mixed-up animals.
Dolphins with a PorpoiseJust like with turtles and tortoises, dolphins and porpoises are easy to discern once you know what to look for. Dolphins have longer “beaks” and cone-shaped teeth. Porpoises have smaller mouths and spade-shaped teeth. Dolphins also have a triangular dorsal fin (the fin on its back), while porpoises’ fins are curved like a hook. Dolphins are also skinnier than porpoises.
Did you know that all alligators are crocodiles, but not all crocodiles are alligators? It’s likely that you won’t care which is which when one is steaming toward you in the water, but we’ll break it down for you anyway. Both species of reptiles have been around for more than 240 million years. That means alligators and crocodiles have outlived the dinosaurs and the Roman Empire.
There are three taxanomic classifications of crocodylians:
1. Alligatoridae – Includes alligators and caimans.
2. Crocodylidae – Includes crocodiles.
3. Gavialdidae – Gharials are the only species in this family.
So, now we know they are a part of two different families. The main physical difference between alligators and crocodiles is the shape of the jaw. Alligators have a more rounded “U” shaped jaw, while crocodiles’ are pointier. Another physical difference is the bottom teeth. Because of the shape of their jaws, you can see crocodiles’ bottom teeth, but not alligators’.
Again, it all comes back to the family tree. All toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads. The difference between frogs and toads can first be found in the skin. Frogs have smooth skin, appear to be slimy, and have skinny bodies. Toads have rough, bumpy, warty, and dry skin. Toads also like to hang out with witches more often. You’re more likely to find frogs closer to water, as they spend more time in and around it than toads. Because of this, frogs have webbed hind feet and longer legs for jumping.
Both turtles and tortoises are reptiles. Both have shells. Both lay eggs. Both look like turtles. So, how do you tell the difference between the two? It’s really actually very simple to differentiate. Turtles are semi-aquatic animals that have fins as feet. They can be found almost exclusively next to a water source. Tortoises never dwell in the water. They don’t swim, have “feet” instead of fins, and can be found in hot, dry areas.
All of these animals can be found in America’s State Parks. To see which park contains which animals, download our free Pocket Ranger® mobile app for your state and look under Wildlife Viewing.