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The American Crocodile Crocodiles acutus Crocodylus acutus or more commonly referred to as the American crocodile is the second most widely distributed of the New World crocodiles ranging from the southern tip of Florida both the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts of Southern Mexico as well as the Caribbean islands of Cuba Jamaica and Hispaniola 1 Species These areas provide the perfect climate for these endangered species that have roamed the earth for over 200 million years Florida is known for its large population of American alligators which are often confused for the rare American crocodile However there are vast differences between the two species Hunted for their hides and the changing of their habitat to beach front property is slowly pushing the American crocodile out of Florida the only place it is found in the United States For 190 million years before the first humans evolved huge populations of crocodilians in more or less their present form inhabited the waters and shorelines of rivers lakes swamps and estuaries of tropical and subtropical lands Today they represent the last true survivors of the huge reptiles that once dominated the seas and landmasses of Earth for over 200 million years 6 Levy However It is inappropriate to treat crocodilians as living fossils whose inferiority forced them into a marginal ecological role as amphibious predators in a world now dominated by mammals In fact they are highly specialized for their particular mode of life and have undergone considerable changes during their long evolutionary history 14 Ross Among living vertebrates crocodilians are most closely related to birds rather than to lizards 14 Even though these two groups are now adapted to different modes of life they both have an elongate outer ear canal a muscular gizzard and complete separation of the ventricles of the heart Crocodilians are the most advanced of all reptiles They are elongated armored and lizard-like with a muscular laterally shaped tail used in swimming
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