Alligators gobble rocks to stay underwater longer

first_imgThe researchers think the stones work like a scuba diver’s weight belt, letting alligators and crocs stay deep under the surface even when their lungs are full of air. And the greater the weight, the more air they can take in before they dive deep. Because the current study used juvenile alligators, which have lighter, more cartilaginous tissues, the researchers want to run it again in adults. But for now, it appears that the mystery stones aid these powerful reptiles in doing what they do best: lying in wait, and out of sight. Peter Scoones/Minden Pictures Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Alligators dine on many strange delicacies: sharks, kumquats, and stones. Scientists have long thought that, like birds, gators swallow stones to help them digest their tough-to-process meals, or accidentally ingest them in the chaos of consuming a live, thrashing dinner. But a new study supports another use for a belly full of rocks—as a way to boost bottom time on dives.Crocodylians—which include alligators, crocodiles, and caimans—spend most of their time in the water, stalking prey and escaping from predators. Anything they can do to maximize their time below the surface is an advantage, and some experts wondered whether rocks might also serve this purpose.To find out, researchers brought seven young American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) into their lab and measured how long they stayed submerged before and after they voluntarily swallowed a set of small stones. Each alligator took 42 dives—21 before and 21 after their flinty meal. The stones—which were only about 2.5% of the alligators’ body weight—seemed to make a significant difference, increasing dive time by an average of 88% and up to 35 minutes, the team reported last month in Integrative Organismal Biology. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country By Jake BuehlerFeb. 1, 2019 , 8:00 AM Alligators gobble rocks to stay underwater longer Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Emaillast_img