Page last updated at 16:08 GMT, Tuesday, 30 December 2008

US alligator found far from home


Campsite caretaker on how he captured the alligator

Wildlife officials in Australia are investigating how an alligator native to North America was found wandering around a campsite in New South Wales.

Campers at the site in Pambula managed to snare the beast in a volleyball net and held its jaws shut.

Police first issued a press statement saying it was an indigenous crocodile but later corrected their error.

The animal's origins remain a mystery as no owners are registered locally either for crocodiles or alligators.

Crocodiles are found in large numbers in the tropical north of Australia usually in freshwater environments, while the American alligator is found in the south-east United States.

The two are only distant evolutionary relatives - like humans and gorillas, for example.

They may look similar to the untrained eye but can be easily told apart by the alligator's characteristic U-shaped head and the crocodile having more of a V-shaped head.

Unlike alligators, crocodiles also tend to show both upper and lower teeth when their mouths are shut.

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