Alligators and sharks are so terrifying that they even eat each other

NAPLES, FL - NOVEMBER 15: An alligator lurks near the 18th green during the first round of the CME Group Titleholders at the TwinEagles Club on November 15, 2012 in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images); LAS VEGAS - JUNE 07: A detail view of a shark in the tank at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino pool during 'The Grand' after party during the CineVegas film festival June 7, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for CineVegas)

As it turns out, two of the scariest animals to reside in American waters have a reason to be afraid of each other.

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A study conducted by Southeastern Naturalist found that sharks can turn into alligator food if they decide to take a swim in freshwater. Kansas State University researcher James Nifong and IMSS wildlife biologist Russell Lowers discovered four kinds of sharks in the stomach contents of 500 living alligators. These include nurse sharks and stingrays.

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The study also found that alligators are just as likely to be preyed on by sharks because of a practice called “reciprocal predation.” Should an alligator and a shark go up against each other in a fight, then Nifong said that the outcome is determined by “size dynamic.” He adds that there have been stories of “larger sharks eating smaller alligators.”

Seeing as alligators are freshwater animals and sharks are saltwater animals, it’s not common for one to cross over in pursuit of a different palate. Nifong explains that alligators can find themselves in a high-salinity environment if there is enough freshwater in the area, say after a heavy rain. Sharks have also been spotted in freshwater.

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