Science | September 23, 2017 5:00 am

Alligators Can and Will Eat Sharks, New Evidence Shows

A new study confirms alligators have sharks and stingrays on their menu.

An alligator is pictured ahead of The Players Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 10, 2017 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
An alligator is pictured ahead of The Players Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 10, 2017 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Alligators aren’t picky eaters — and they clearly aren’t afraid to take a bite out of top predators, either, according to National Geographic.

A new report details four separate occasions in which scientists documented an American alligator eating a lemon shark, nurse shark, bonnethead shark and an Atlantic stingray. The results, published in the peer-reviewed journal Southeastern Naturalist, were surprising because alligators tend to be freshwater predators.

But ecologist James Nifong, who lead the study, told NatGeo that both sharks and alligators are “known for their extreme eating habits, and both are highly opportunistic predators,” Nifong said. “So, when presented with a potential opportunity to feed, they are not likely to pass it up.”

Nifong also found evidence of sharks feeding on alligators, NatGeo notes, but both animals can be tough to keep an eye on in their coastal habitats, which makes studying them more difficult. Some scientists use tagging methods to track the movement of sharks and learn more about them; to study alligators, others pump the stomach of live alligators to examine their contents.

As ecologist Adam Rosenblatt told NatGeo: “Nature is a wild and crazy place.”