By Linda, Everett Public Library staff
Did you know that the jaws of most crocodiles and alligators can be held closed with a rubber band?
Their jaws close with tremendous force and sink into prey with tons of pressure (alligator = 2,980 psi [pounds per square inch] — Crocodile = 5,000 psi), but the muscles that open the jaws are weak. I found this information on page 14 of the book Incredible Crocodiles by Barbara Taylor. I also discovered that we mostly only have alligators in the United States, because they are the only crocodilians that can survive cooler temperatures and live outside of the tropics. But, as with everything else, there are always exceptions. The American crocodile lives in zoos and the wild in southern Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean.
The book Alligator and Crocodile Rescue by Trish Snyder talks about the differences between crocodilians. One of the most visible differences are their snouts: crocodiles have a pointy snout and an alligator has a rounded one. If one of them starts swimming after me, however, its snout is the least of my concerns! In this important book we find out what is being done to protect crocodilians and their habitats.
A billabong is one place you might see a crocodile. A billabong is an Australian term for an oxbow lake, an isolated pond left behind after a river changes course. Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving the former branch with a dead-end…. And I thought a billabong was only a brand of surfer clothes!
‘See you later alligator, (after ‘while crocodile)’ was written by Louisiana songwriter Robert Charles Guidry and first recorded by him under his professional name “Bobby Charles” in 1955. Star Rocks for Kids has a cute version to listen to, and we have the book The 1950s that has the lyrics printed out.
The rubber band was invented on March 17, 1845 by Stephen Perry. He initially sold them to newspapers that put them on before delivery and then they really caught on. I’ll bet they never thought a rubber band could be used on a crocodile! Now, we use rubber bands all the time and never think much about them. But Lance Akiyama does. He wrote Rubber Band Engineer which has plans for a catapult, a crossbow and many other contraptions.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter what kind of contraption you build, I highly recommended that you DO NOT try it on a crocodilian.