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Q: Catagorization of alligators and lizards ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Catagorization of alligators and lizards
Category: Science > Biology
Asked by: panbean-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 13 Jun 2006 13:40 PDT
Expires: 13 Jul 2006 13:40 PDT
Question ID: 737881
Are alligators lizards?
Subject: Re: Catagorization of alligators and lizards
Answered By: byrd-ga on 13 Jun 2006 16:31 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi panbean-ga,

What an interesting question. I've often wondered the same thing
myself, so of course I couldn't pass up a chance to research this to
find out once and for all what the real story is.

You may have heard, as I have, that the word "alligator" means lizard.
I found out some interesting facts about that name, and yes, it does
mean lizard.

"The name of the large semi-aquatic reptile was not derived (as some
have supposed) from the Latin alligare (to bind), even though one who
is caught in an alligator's teeth is certainly bound up! The real
origin is the Spanish el lagarto (the lizard), which itself came from
the Latin lacertus (lizard). In the sixteenth century, only the noun
was used, so the reptile was called lagarto, but a century later the
article el had become part of the English word, forming ellagarto, and
then alligator." See here: 

However, according to the scientific classification system currently
in use, alligators are considered quite different creatures from
lizards. As you might recall from basic biology class, the
classification system (also called taxonomy) we use is divided up by


So, with regards to alligators and lizards, the classification is as follows.

For the American Alligator:        

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:  Chordata
Class:   Reptilia
Order:   Crocodylia
Family:  Alligatoridae
Genus:   Alligator
Species: mississippiensis

For a lizard in general: 

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:    Chordata
Class:     Reptilia
Order:     Squamata
[Suborder] Sauria

You see I've left blank the family, genus and species of lizards. The
reason why is that there are so many different ones. Take the familiar
Green Iguana, for instance. It belongs to the Family Iguanidae, Genus
Iguana, Species Iguana. But there are thousands of possible
combinations when it comes to lizards.

Still, you can see from this listing that the answer to your question
is NO, an alligator is NOT a lizard. They are related only because
they are both reptiles. After that they belong to entirely different

Here's a list of links you might find interesting, if you'd like to do
a little more reading on the subject:



Q&As - Class of the American Alligator and lizard classification info:


If you need any further clarification, please let me know with a
Request for Clarification before rating and closing your question, so
I can be sure you're happy with the information provided.

Thanks for an interesting hunt!

Best wishes,

Search terms used: 

[alligators lizards taxonomy OR classification]
[classification reptiles american]
[lizard order family]
[alligator order family]
[alligator kingdom phylum class order]
[lizard kingdom phylum class order]
[class reptilia]
[scientific classification]
panbean-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thank-you for your time and the clear and concise answer.  Even if it
did lose me $2 bucks on the bet ;)  Cheers Panbean

Subject: Re: Catagorization of alligators and lizards
From: byrd-ga on 13 Jul 2006 18:45 PDT
Hi panbean-ga, 

Well, dang. Sorry to hear about your bet. Phooey on that, eh? On the
other hand, I'm glad you were pleased with the answer. Thank you for
the kind words and five stars! :-)

Best wishes, 

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