Scary, with Charisma

Alligator – Maligned Predator

Ambience: Alligator Hiss
That’s a scary enough sound in its own right, and when you think of having a close encounter with the large creature whose making that sound – a creature with the huge mouth and many teeth, well it’s not hard to see why most folks are afraid of alligators. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Barrow: Alligators are this charismatic reptile that people have deep-seated fears about. But those fears aren’t based in reality.

Mark Barrow is a professor of history at VA Tech. He says the alligator’s reputation as a man-eater may be a case of mistaken identity.

Barrow: They live in the Southeastern United States in wetlands and they eat almost anything, occasionally eat pets – human’s pets, and occasionally will attack humans. But the reality is that the odds of being attacked by an alligator are very slim. Yet, the perception we have is of a voracious creature bent on attacking humans whenever it can. That goes back to a longer deeper history we have with this species that’s long been confused with the Nile Crocodile, which is in fact a fairly aggressive creature.

From the research I’ve done it looks like that from the time when Columbus arrived in the new world they saw these reptiles that looked like the crocodiles they were familiar with – the Nile Crocodile, and assumed from the very moment that Europeans arrived in the New World that they were a species that was identical if not exactly the same as the nile crocodile, and just assumed that in fact that creature was an aggressive creature, when in fact it’s not particularly aggressive.

More on alligators in future programs. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Scary, with Charisma

Is the alligator's fierce reputation a case of mistaken identity?
Air Date:10/25/2021
Scientist:
Transcript:

Alligator - Maligned Predator Ambience: Alligator Hiss That's a scary enough sound in its own right, and when you think of having a close encounter with the large creature whose making that sound - a creature with the huge mouth and many teeth, well it's not hard to see why most folks are afraid of alligators. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Barrow: Alligators are this charismatic reptile that people have deep-seated fears about. But those fears aren't based in reality. Mark Barrow is a professor of history at VA Tech. He says the alligator's reputation as a man-eater may be a case of mistaken identity. Barrow: They live in the Southeastern United States in wetlands and they eat almost anything, occasionally eat pets - human's pets, and occasionally will attack humans. But the reality is that the odds of being attacked by an alligator are very slim. Yet, the perception we have is of a voracious creature bent on attacking humans whenever it can. That goes back to a longer deeper history we have with this species that's long been confused with the Nile Crocodile, which is in fact a fairly aggressive creature. From the research I've done it looks like that from the time when Columbus arrived in the new world they saw these reptiles that looked like the crocodiles they were familiar with – the Nile Crocodile, and assumed from the very moment that Europeans arrived in the New World that they were a species that was identical if not exactly the same as the nile crocodile, and just assumed that in fact that creature was an aggressive creature, when in fact it's not particularly aggressive. More on alligators in future programs. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.