Alligator’s head has an oddity experts have never seen before, Georgia researchers say


A 7-foot alligator caught in southeast Georgia has researchers looking for explanations after discovering it had a mysterious jaw appendage — with teeth.

Alligators are prone to deformities due to their violent lifestyle, but this is something new, the University’s of Georgia’s Coastal Ecology Lab wrote in a Feb. 19 Facebook post.

“We see a variety of injuries in the alligators that we catch in the Okefenokee Swamp, from missing limbs and eyes to a tooth that pokes through the upper jaw, but we have never seen an injury quite like the one,” lab officials said in the post.

It’s suspected the alligator was born with a normal jaw that was broken and never realigned after healing, officials say.

It’s suspected the alligator was born with a normal jaw that was broken and never realigned after healing, officials say.

“Her lower jaw appeared to protrude out from under her upper jaw on the left side of her face. … The part of her jaw that is sticking out has teeth in it still.”

It’s suspected the alligator was born with a normal jaw that snapped in two — perhaps while battling a much larger alligator, lab officials say.

The alligator survived and her jaw healed, but never realigned. The alligator likely suffered during the healing process, but continued to hunt and eat, experts say.

“The section where those teeth should be in her jaw has been filled back in with bone and was very solid,” the lab reports.

“This unique injury does not appear to affect her ability to eat as her body and tail girth were comparable to other alligators of similar size. This is just another example of how resilient the American alligator is.”

Alligators are known to fight to the death over turf, mates and protecting their young. The species is also not above cannibalism, studies show.

The fierce battles can leave both winners and losers with missing limbs, gouged-out eyes and snapped-off tails.

Okefenokee Swamp is in Georgia’s southeast corner, about 45 miles northwest of Jacksonville.

The Coastal Ecology Lab is studying alligators in and around the area, including a program that tracks their movements, nesting habits and lineage.

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