Alligators and their close relatives the caymans are short-snouted members of the crocodile family. True alligators seem to be able to survive in colder conditions than their relatives. They live further north and may hibernate during the winter.
Most species of cayman and alligator probably live and develop in much the same way as the much-studied American alligator. All species swim well and feed from the water on fish and mammals, and they all lay their eggs in sand. The Chinese alligator spends much time in a burrow dug into a river bank.
The skin of alligators and caymans makes valuable leather, and many have been destroyed because of this. In some cases the disappearance of the alligators has led to ecological disaster, as the insects, rodents and fish that were the alligator's food have increased in number and become pests.

(taken from "Oxford Children`s Encyclopedia", OUP 96)



Bison are large cow-like animals which were once common in Europe and America. In Europe they were hunted almost to extinction in ancient times. Today, only a few protected herds survive in parks and zoos.
In America in 1850 bison herds were thought to number over 100 million animals. European settlers hunted these so heavily that by 1900 only about 1000 bison remained. They then began to be protected, and today about 50,000 survive.

(taken from "Oxford Children`s Encyclopedia", OUP 96)


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