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Gator Vs Crocodile Teeth ID


Jesuslover340

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Jesuslover340

I'm sure many of you are aware of the issue concerning discerning between a croc tooth and a gator tooth. So this is my attempt to answer it, now that I've attained a varied collection. First, I will start with the popular generalizations, then I will list each of my crocodile and gator teeth and assess each one. With said data, I will hopefully deduce the best method for discernment. Though this is not meant to be comprehensive, I hope it can be used as a general guideline for identifying crocodylian teeth. The answer is not as clear-cut as you might surmise...

 

Generalizations:

-Croc teeth are more curved; gator teeth are more straight (possibly as a result of eating more fish, whereas gators eat more turtles?). This is why you can see a croc's teeth when its mouth is closed (the teeth curve around the outside of the snout and jaw) and not a gator's.

-Gators have two 'seams' (carinae) 180° from each other, whereas crocs either have multiples or none.

-croc teeth are more conical and sharp; gator teeth are generally blunt.

 

Observations:

Pallimnarchus pollens (crocodile) from the Pleistocene of Australia (images 1-3):

-two carinae 180° from each other

-sharp/pointy

-curved

-ovoid base

Pallimnarchus pollens (crocodile) from the Pliocene of Australia (images 4-5):

-two carinae 180° from each other

-sharp/pointy

-slightly curved

-conical base

Goniopholis sp. (crocodile) from Torres Vedras, Jurassic of Portugal (image 6):

-multiple striations

-sharp/pointy

-slightly curved

-conical base

Alligator mississipiensis  (gator) from northern Florida, Pleistocene (images 9-11):

-two carinae 180° from each other

-blunt (it may have been sharp at one point)

-curved

-conical base

Alligator mississipiensis (gator) from Marion Co., Florida, Pleistocene  (images 12-15):

-two carinae 180° from each other

-sharp/pointy

-straight (not including the root)

-ovoid base

Alligator mississipiensis (gator) from the Pleistocene of Florida (images 16-17):

-two carinae 180° from each other

-sharp but rotund

-straight

-ovoid base

Alligator mississipiensis (gator) from the Pleistocene of Florida (image 18):

-two carinae 180° from each other

-sharp/pointy

-slightly curved

-conical base

Alligator mississipiensis (gator) from Bone Valley, Florida, Late Miocene (images 7-8):

-two carinae 180° from each other

-blunt (from wear, but was likely never sharp/pointy due to the amount of force it was using [blunt teeth would have been better for such force distribution and would have minimized wear over sharp teeth])

-straight

-conical base

Edit note: I have changed the identification of this tooth to Alligator mississipiensis as a result of reading this paper and deducing that Alligator would be more plausible than Thecachampsa or a posterior Gavialosuchus: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1HtUwlDORQ0UXZVRGJncGhwVGc/view

Deinosuchus rugosus (alligatoroid/crocodylian) from the Ripley Fm., Bullock County, Alabama, Cretaceous (images 19-21):

-two carinae with crenulations 180° from each other; some evidence of 'proto-seams' along the base

-sharp but rotund

-slightly curved

-conical base

Deinosuchus rugosus (alligatoroid/crocodylian) from the Ripley Fm., Bullock County, Alabama, Cretaceous  (images 22-25):

-two carinae with crenulations 180° from each other

-sharp but rotund

-straight

-ovoid base

 

Discussion:

While croc teeth may generally be more slender and curved, this is not a sure-fire way to identify a crocodylian tooth as being crocodile. Crocodiles do have blunt/rotund, straight, 'stubby' teeth posteriorly (towards the back of their jaw) and these look just like an Alligator's (unfortunately, I don't have any images of the 'button-looking teeth of a crocodile, but image 16 is one of an Alligator 's). Likewise, young Alligators are known to have sharp, pointy, curved teeth (see image 18; I've seen some even more curved). Carinae/striations seem to vary for crocodiles, ranging from none (I have no such specimen to provide a photo of, unfortunately), to a consistent two, to multiple striations. I would say it's a safe bet to assume a tooth is crocodile if it has no carinae or multiple striations, as this is not seen with Alligators (which always have two carinae). In those cases where a tooth has two carinae, further deduction could be done based on the rate of rarity of each per the location, robustness, and curvature if it isn't small. It is also of note that per the paper above (kindly provided by @Plax), the ratio of height to diameter in Alligator mississipiensis teeth did not exceed 1.6. However, do bear in mind that teeth with two carinae that are small, slender, and curved could be either a crocodile or young gator, just as a robust, straight, 'button'-like tooth with two carinae could be either a posterior crocodile's or Alligator 's. Again, such deductions should be taken into account with the rarity of each per a locality. Most importantly, keep in mind that form determines function -blunt, robust teeth indicate a diet of hard-shelled prey; sharp, pointy teeth indicate a diet of slippery prey. Ask yourself if the form better indicates the lifestyle of a crocodile or Alligator found in your area (get to know your specific species!). Then take the above into account.  You should be reasonably able to deduce whether you'll  see the owner of your tooth later or in awhile ;)

 

To summarize:

1. If the tooth has no carinae or has multiple 'ridges'/seams (striations), it's crocodile. 

2. If the tooth has exactly two carinae 180° apart, is small, sharp/pointy, slender, and curves, it could be a small crocodile tooth or young Alligator's. Use the above tips to help you deduce which it is (curvature, robustness, form, lifestyle, rarity of either per the locale, etc.). If it is rather robust and curves, it may likely be Alligator, given its predominance in localities such as Florida. If it is slender and curves and the locale is known for croc teeth over gator, it is likely crocodile and so on and so forth, for example. If you are within the U.S., measuring the height to diameter ratio could help rule out Alligator if it exceeds 1.6.

3. If the tooth has exactly two carinae 180° apart and is straight and rotund, it could either be an Alligator tooth or posterior crocodile's. Use the above tips to help you deduce which it is (curvature, robustness, form, lifestyle, rarity of either per the locale, etc.). Generally speaking, unless you live outside the U.S., posterior crocodile teeth will be more uncommon, especially small ones. If it is large, rotund, and straight (or only curves slightly if it isn't 'button'-like), it's probably gator unless a crocodile with a diet for hard-shelled prey is common in the area. You can also use the height to diameter ratio for this one as well.

4. If you can't tell from these deductions, it's probably a Crocogator or Allidile tooth :P

 

 

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  • I found this Informative 18
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Nice dissertation Skylar

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A great write up. :dinothumb: 

 

I've always wondered what the difference was :)

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2 hours ago, Plax said:

An interesting subject. Amazing how similar the Deinosuchus teeth look to Globidens teeth.

This subject was discussed in a Mosasaur paper (DVPS) also:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1HtUwlDORQ0UXZVRGJncGhwVGc/view

 

Its interesing just how much variation can be in a single animal - we've seen pallimnarchus teeth range from sharp and conical with slight serration down to those stubby looking crushing teeth.

 

Great write up, Skye! To me this highlights the similarity of most crocodile and gator teeth whilst also explaining the subtle differences between them.

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Jesuslover340
2 hours ago, Plax said:

An interesting subject. Amazing how similar the Deinosuchus teeth look to Globidens teeth.

This subject was discussed in a Mosasaur paper (DVPS) also:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1HtUwlDORQ0UXZVRGJncGhwVGc/view

An informative read :) I believe similarities are due to similar functions producing similar forms :)

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Jesuslover340

Revised slightly and edited the typos, but it should be good now :)

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Jesuslover340
16 hours ago, Bullsnake said:

This should be pin-worthy!

A compliment indeed; thanks!

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Jesuslover340
2 hours ago, Nimravis said:

Great job Skylar, how is it Down Under??

Doing quite well, thanks :)

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Jesuslover340

If anyone has any croc/gator teeth to add to this thread for future comparison purposes, feel free!

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Jesuslover340
On 23/08/2017 at 7:18 AM, Ash said:

 

Its interesing just how much variation can be in a single animal - we've seen pallimnarchus teeth range from sharp and conical with slight serration down to those stubby looking crushing teeth.

 

Great write up, Skye! To me this highlights the similarity of most crocodile and gator teeth whilst also explaining the subtle differences between them.

Missed this...

Personal communication indicates Pallimnarchus pollens may actually be referrable to Crocodylus...

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  • 7 months later...
Jesuslover340

Here's a posterior tooth from a Pallimnarchus (crocodile), as I wasn't able to provide an example for a posterior crocodile tooth in the original post:

20180429_152610.jpg

  • I found this Informative 2
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Tidgy's Dad

Very useful and informative post! 

Nice teeth too! :)

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Bobby Rico

Hi @Jesuslover340 first time I have seen this post. Just brilliant very helpful. Great teeth for comparison too. Thank you

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  • 11 months later...
Jesuslover340
On 06/05/2018 at 12:30 AM, Bobby Rico said:

Hi @Jesuslover340 first time I have seen this post. Just brilliant very helpful. Great teeth for comparison too. Thank you

I had forgotten about this thread; thanks!

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Great job. Now, have you seen simosuchus clarki teeth? Google it, you won't be disappointed.

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