Why you should love Gators too...
ESA Blawg readers already know how I feel about Florida Gators. Your health now demands that you love them too.
Once a threatened species in the 1950s and 60s due to overharvesting, and eventually regulated under the Endangered Species Act, American alligator populations have long since recovered throughout the Southeastern United States. See FWS fact sheet and Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. Recent scientific information from LSU suggests that the reptile's preservation may have been an especially important accomplishment for humans, because Gator blood is particularly adept at combating infection. (University of Florida scientists conducted similar studies in 1999 and 2002.) An evolutionary trait created over eons to deal with the harsh realities of a violent predatory lifestyle, the Gator immune system can combat infections it never previously experienced, and the chemicals in it may soon be used in new pharmaceutical products to combat the superbugs that are increasingly resistant to traditional antibiotics. Read more from the Palm Beach Post and NIH's MedLine.
Photo of American alligator by FWS, available from American Chemical Society, who sponsored the talk by University scientists on this subject in April 2008