The Dinosaurs Among Us: Myths vs. Facts

Central Florida boasts an array of opportunities to get up close and personal with animals we may only ever get to see in a zoo or nature preserve.

The Journalism X team recently experienced Orlando’s Gatorland to learn more about the American Alligator.

Photo: Mya Cloud

The fact is, there are many misconceptions about the American alligator and at the moment gators don’t have the best “press” following a fatal attack at a local theme park.

Are these creatures cuddly and safe? No, and although being wary around alligators is important, especially in the water, it is also just as important to realize their beauty and to know the facts, rather than trusting the myths.

Fun Fact! Alligators are today’s living Dinosaurs! The basic Crocodylia body form (both alligators and crocodile have this body type) has been around for more than 180 million years.

Photo: Bradie Crabbs

Many believe that alligators can live for hundreds of years but this is actually a myth. Alligators generally live 35-50 years in the wild and 60-80 years in captivity according to Discovery Kids.

Photo: Jasmine Morgan

Blind as a bat or 20/20 vision? Gators actually have 2 sets of eyelids. The outer lids are skin like and close from top to bottom like our eyes do. Their inner lids are clear to protect the gator’s eyes and assist with underwater vision.  These lids close back to front.

Photo: Kyra Swinarski

Some fear that alligators are vicious creatures who attack any chance they get. Their diet includes fish, turtles, birds, small mammals, and sometimes deer.

But alligators are neither hunters or gatherers. In fact, they like to wait for their meal to pass by them and when they time is right, they will lunge at incredible speed. If it’s hungry an alligator will eat anything that moves, so it’s important to be alert if hanging out near lakes, ponds, rivers and irrigation canals.

Photo: Milanne Berg


Story by:

Shelby Beck
Age 15

Tatum Cempella
Age 10