Weird Looking Alligator With No Top Jaw Spotted in Florida

Deep in the murky waters of the Everglades, a nine-foot long alligator has been living seemingly unimpeded by one big personal problem: it's missing a large chunk of its upper jaw.

Photos posted to Facebook by Stacey Lynette show the seemingly stricken gator cruising about with a major underbite, its bottom teeth protruding out where the end of its upper jaw should have been.

"I saw this gator far away and he looked weird to me," she wrote in the post. "I grabbed my camera and sure as sh*t, the whole end of his top jaw is missing. The photo quality is crap because he was really far away. By the looks of him, he's doing alright though."

So what happened to this alligator and how has it managed to keep trucking along missing half its face?

Alligator
Alligator spotted Stacey Lynette

There are approximately 1.3 million alligators living in Florida, being found across all 67 counties. They can grow to around 15 feet and weigh over 1,200lbs, living to between 30 to 50 years in the wild.

Hunting the large reptiles is legal in the state, within certain parameters and with a permit, and the state's annual alligator hunt starts in mid August, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Alligators are surprisingly good at healing themselves, and as reptiles, they are one of the few species of land vertebrates that can actually grow appendages back, although this is only seen in the tail.

Clearly, this particular gator has not been able to grow his whole jaw back, but the enhanced healing abilities of his species likely helped him not bleed to death in the aftermath of whatever disaster led to him losing part of his face.

Alligators are not known for their peaceful nature, and often get into scraps over mating rights and territorial disputes, especially during the mating season. Vicious fights can occur during this period of high tension, and they can seriously injure each other to the point of losing limbs and eyes.

It is possible that this alligator lost its jaw as part of one of these fights.

The main reason many people are scared of alligators is their enormous, sharp teeth. They're comfortably at the top of their food chain, using their mouthful of up to 80 teeth to bring down prey.

Alligators are renowned for having one of the strongest bites of any other animal, with a maximum recorded bite force of over 13,000 N (a Newton being the "force necessary to provide a mass of one kilogram with an acceleration of one meter per second per second," according to the Encyclopedia Britannica).

For comparison, your jaw can only clamp down with around 1000N of force.

Catching prey without half a jaw must have made life difficult for this alligator.

It has likely survived on prey that doesn't require a death roll, such as invertebrates, fish, turtles, amphibians, and even fruit.

An American alligator
Stock image showing an American alligator. iStock