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Additional resources for Britannica Illustrated Science Library Reptiles And Dinosaurs
They are perfectly adapted for life in the water and use their tails for swimming. SCALES ALONG THE BACK 1 hour THE AMOUNT OF TIME THEY CAN REMAIN UNDERWATER WELL PROTECTED Body scales serve as armor. Webbed feet help them to swim. EYES ON TOP OF HEAD V-SHAPED SNOUT Busy Females The female lays from 16 to 80 eggs in a hole well above the water level. She will use this same nest throughout her life. She carefully protects the eggs while they incubate. When the young hatch, she carefully picks up the hatchlings and carries them to the water in groups.
BACK The scales are closer together. Arrangement of Scales The appearance of the scales is a simple and easy way to classify species. The large parietal scales follow a line that usually differs among species. The sublabial scales are also widely used in identification. Usually there are five, but the number varies between species. The ventral scales are perhaps most easily used for identification, because they differ notably from one group to another. They are always wide, cover the entire body, and are divided into sections: neck, belly, and tail.
With their hind legs, they dig a hole in the center where they lay their eggs—from 30 to 75 at a time. When finished, they cover the nest with earth. In some cases, the females return to the water and have nothing more to do with the eggs. In the state of Louisiana, a white alligator with no skin pigmentation lives in captivity. This trait would make it vulnerable in the wild, because it would be unable to absorb energy from the sun, a process that is crucial for many reasons, especially for the maintenance of its body temperature, allowing it to have enough energy to attack its prey.