From an Irvingtonian Age Pleistocene spring site in Florida, this a fantastic COMPLETE fossil jaw of a prehistoric alligator. Because of the freshwater deposit, the fossil was not exposed to the acidic tannins common in the waterways of the southeastern U.S., leaving an incredible high level of overall preservation. The lack of strong river currents also allowed rare anatomy to be kept intact, never seen in typical river fossils. The bone preserved a light brown and the teeth and warm ivory white. A great fossil for a diverse collection of prehistoric reptiles, and of this unique prehistoric reptile that has stood the test of time, still alive today.
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An alligator is a crocodilian in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. The two living species are the American alligator (A. mississippiensis) and the Chinese alligator (A. sinensis). Additionally, several extinct species of alligator are known from fossil remains. Alligators first appeared during the Oligocene epoch about 37 million years ago. The modern alligator as we know it today, has remain unchanged for millions of years and can only be found in China and the southeastern U.S..
To gain an insight as to the nature of the prehistoric alligator, we can look at what we know from a living alligator since this reptile is the same as it was, millions of years ago. In North America, the alligator is the largest living reptile. Unlike crocodiles that have a narrow jaw and 4th position upper jaw tooth that hangs over the lower jaw when closed, alligators have a broader skull and their 4th upper tooth fits into a socket in the lower jaw, and is concealed when the jaw is shut. Alligators inhabit fresh and brackish marshes, ponds, lakes, rivers, swamps, bayous, and large spring runs. Their diet mainly consists of fish, birds, small mammal, turtles, snakes, frogs and invertebrates.
After emerging from hibernation in April, they mate from that time up until May. The female builds her nest in June. Hatchlings will remain with the mother for as long as 3 years from birth.