Alligators Attack and Eat Sharks, Study Confirms
The American reptiles have a voracious diet, but scientists were still surprised by what they found.
It's particularly surprising, says study leader James Nifong, an ecologist at Kansas State University, because alligators are known as freshwater predators.
In fact, when Nifong started asking alligator experts if they’d ever encountered instances of the toothy reptiles preying upon elasmobranchs—a group that includes sharks, rays, and skates—quite a few people thought he was joking. (Watch a big alligator eat a smaller one.)
Persistence paid off, however, and Nifong confirmed four separate instances in which an American alligator ate a lemon shark, a nurse shark, a bonnethead shark, and an Atlantic stingray.
He also uncovered some historical accounts of sharks preying upon American alligators, suggesting that the two carnivores square off more often than thought.
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