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(taxonomy) A taxonomic family of alligators and caimans


Alligatoridae is a family comprised of alligators and caimans. Thus, it has two subfamilies: (1) Alligatorinae and (2) Caimaninae. The subfamily Alligatorinae has ten known genera. However, only one of them is extant, i.e. the genus Alligator. The other nine genera are already extinct, i.e. Chrysochampsa, Hassiacosuchus, Navajosuchus, Ceratosuchus, Allognathosuchus, Arambourgia, Procaimanoidea, Wannaganosuchus, and Krabisuchus.

The genus Alligator or simply alligators are large carnivorous reptiles. They resemble the crocodiles in morphology. However, the alligators have a broader U-shaped snout whereas the crocodiles have a rather V-shaped snout. There are two known species of alligators, i.e. A. mississippiensis and A. sinensis.

The Caimaninae or the caimans are currently comprised of three species that are alive today (i.e. Caiman yacare, Caiman crocodilus, and Caiman latirostris), two extinct species (i.e. Caiman lutescens and Caiman sorontans).1 The caimans differ from alligators in lacking a bony septum between nostrils. They are also more agile and have longer, sharper teeth.2

Scientific classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Superorder: Crocodylomorpha
  • Order: Crocodilia
  • Clade: Globidonta
  • Family: Alligatoridae [Gray, 1844]

See also:

1 Caiman. Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved from [[1]].
2 Guggisberg, C.A.W. (1972). Crocodiles: Their Natural History, Folklore, and Conservation. p. 195.