How are the two Alligator species so far apart?

  • Thread starter twistedspark
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In summary, the modern alligator species exist exclusively in the US and China, with no known presence in other parts of the world. It is believed that they have existed for 200 million years, but the breakup of Pangea 250 million years ago may have caused their separation. It is possible that they evolved on Pangea and were separated by the opposing ends of the super continent. However, it is unlikely that they could have crossed the Pacific ocean to reach their current locations. The extinction of pre-crocodilian creatures and the last glaciation maximum may have contributed to the limited distribution of alligators. There is also a correlation between alligator populations and the worldwide distribution of wetlands and swamps. It is a wonder
  • #1
In my understanding, the only two extant species of Alligators exist exclusively in the US and China. *Nowhere else.
They are said to have existed for 200 million years, but Pangea broke up 250 M years ago.
Just for the sake of argument, say they had evolved on Pangea and just got separated; the lands that are now China and America were on opposing ends of the super continent. They lived on opposite ends and nowhere in between?
The Pacific ocean in now smaller than it was then and there's no way I can see a group of them crossing such a massive span of water. Not today. No way then.
I've tried finding an answer on Google without success.
Do any of the geniuses here have an answer I can fathom?

P.S. - why does this site fill in asterisks whenever I try to put a space? Is grammar a dirty word here?
 
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  • #2
Consider: a creature spreads out across an entire continent, but the ones in the middle all die out. You end up with examples of the creature in only a few, widely separated, places.

220M years ago - the ancestors of the modern alligator were quite different from their current shape.
http://www.all-about-reptiles.com/barbarenasuchus.html

You are talking about a very long time, so you need to consider modern crocodiles, caimans, and gavials as well. Also remember that the dinosaurs all died out during that time... these pre-crocodilians also suffered heavy number loss. Also the last glaciation maximum was 18000 years ago. So, overall, it is hardly surprising that these creatures, and many others, exist in pockets here and there.
 
  • #3
Simon Bridge said:
Consider: a creature spreads out across an entire continent, but the ones in the middle all die out. You end up with examples of the creature in only a few, widely separated, places.

leading to the question: why did they die out?

I postulate a correlation between allie populations and worldwide distribution of wetlands/swamps (Florida/Louisiana, Yangtze River).
 
  • #5
DaveC426913 said:
leading to the question: why did they die out?
A good theory should lead to more questions :)

Considering there was an ice-age and whatever took-out the dinosaurs in the time period concerned, we can take our pic for extinction mechanisms. The wonder is that any survived at all. Whatever was left evolved in place to modern crocodilians.

I postulate a correlation between allie populations and worldwide distribution of wetlands/swamps (Florida/Louisiana, Yangtze River).
Yep - look at how those locations compare with the extent of glaciation too.
 

1. How did the two Alligator species evolve to be so different?

The two Alligator species, the American alligator and the Chinese alligator, evolved separately over millions of years due to geographical isolation and natural selection. The American alligator is native to the southeastern United States, while the Chinese alligator is found in eastern China. This separation allowed for each species to adapt to their unique environments, resulting in distinct physical and behavioral differences.

2. What are the main physical differences between the two Alligator species?

The American alligator is typically larger, with a longer and wider snout, and has a darker coloration compared to the Chinese alligator. The Chinese alligator has a shorter and narrower snout, and is more uniformly colored with a lighter shade of green. Additionally, the Chinese alligator has a bony ridge on its back and a shorter tail, while the American alligator has a smoother back and a longer tail.

3. Do the two Alligator species have different behaviors?

Yes, the two Alligator species have distinct behaviors due to their different environments and habitats. The American alligator is more social and territorial, living in larger groups and defending its territory from other alligators. On the other hand, the Chinese alligator is more solitary and less aggressive, often living in smaller groups or pairs and avoiding confrontation.

4. Are the two Alligator species able to breed with each other?

No, the two Alligator species are not able to interbreed. Even though they are closely related, their genetic makeup has diverged too much over time for successful reproduction. Additionally, the American alligator and Chinese alligator have different mating rituals and behaviors which further prevent crossbreeding.

5. How do scientists classify the two Alligator species?

The two Alligator species are classified as separate species within the same genus, Alligator. This means that they share a common ancestor and have similar physical characteristics, but are distinct enough to be considered different species. The American alligator is classified as Alligator mississippiensis, while the Chinese alligator is classified as Alligator sinensis.

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