Not So Tough
EverÂ notice howÂ some parts are more sensitive than others? In humans, the lips are a super-sensitive part of the face.
If your entire face were that sensitive, you'd have a small taste of life as anÂ alligator.
Though they're all covered in tough skin, alligators are extremely touchy creatures.
TheirÂ skin is covered in tiny dots. For a long time scientists who study alligators suspected those dots might be sensory receptors but weren't quite sure of their function.
Daphne Soares at the University of Maryland has an answer. She tried all different kinds of stimulations to see what made the receptors respond. In the end she found it was a simple thing: vibrations in the water.
Alligators float on the surface. When something shakes the water nearby, it might be food. In her studies, Soares found that even a single drop falling into the water caught the attention of alligators--even ones that had their other senses blocked. By putting vaseline in their ears and shutting off the lights, she was able to confirm that alligators that can't hear anything and can't see anything still turn towards even tiny vibrations in the water...Â and they usually bite whatever is vibrating!
Â Read More:
"Gator Feelings" (Science News)