New research shows for at least 8 million years the American alligator has remained virtually unchanged by evolution, making it among the world’s oldest species.
The species may be up to 6 million years older than previously thought.
The University of Florida research shows the American alligator is much older than humans, who only are a few hundred-thousand years old.
Lead researcher Evan Whiting says only a few sharks and other species are as old as alligators.
“Really they’ve been able to make it through some pretty intense changes in the climate and their environment, and the only major thing that has cut their populations back and slowed things down for them is humans.”
The American alligator was removed from the federal endangered species list in 1987.
The animal is found across the southeastern United States. Florida is the only place on Earth where alligators and crocodiles live side-by-side.