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All about Florida

Historical Note:

Older but wiser . . .

Searching for the legendary "Fountain of Youth" white-haired explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, former Governor of Puerto Rico, reached the shores of what is now Florida. Landing on Easter Sunday in 1513, Ponce de Leon so named the land for its abundance of flowers and also for the season's religious holiday, Pasqua de Flores. He may not have found the fountain to prevent his getting older, but he did learn about a whole New World.

Trivia Question about Big Bend:

Mystery and intrigue surround Florida's panhandle where scuba divers search for the sunken treasures of ancient shipwrecks, lusting after Spanish galleons loaded with gold. The frequent and numerous Spanish losses, however, overshadow an American vessel lost in the hurricane of 1820, carrying $5 million in gold bullion. There were no survivors and the treasure disappeared in the vast marshy shores of Big Bend. Where was this ship and its treasure bound?

  1. Bound for France carrying payment for the Louisiana Purchase.
  2. Bound for Spain carrying payment for damages caused by American citizens who rebelled against Spain.
  3. Bound for Tripoli carrying payment for pirates' ransom to release 22 hostages seized from an American merchant ship.
  4. Bound for the West Indies to help suppress a slave rebellion on sugar plantations.

(Answer at bottom of this page)

Trivia Questions about Alligators:

1. What's the difference between an American alligator and an American crocodile?

  1. Crocs are shyer and more sensitive to cold
  2. Croc's skulls are narrower and longer
  3. Croc's have an underbite
  4. Crocs are tan, alligators are greyish black
  5. All of the above
  6. Some of the above

2. True or False? Alligators and crocodiles don't chew their food.

3. What do gators and crocs have in common with sharks?

(Answers at bottom of this page)

Name Origin: Spanish. ("Flower")

Capital: Tallahassee

Population: 13,953,000

Area: 58,664 square miles

Statehood: March 3, 1845 (27th)

Nickname: The Sunshine State

Motto: In God we trust

Famous For: Disney World, Busch Gardens, St. Augustine (the oldest city in U.S., founded 50 years before Plymouth), Florida Keys, Everglades, Space Shuttles, Beaches, Alligators, Oranges, Grapefruit, Wildlife

Answer to Trivia Question about Big Bend:

b. Bound for Spain carrying payment for damages caused by American citizens who rebelled against Spain. (Many Americans, assuming western Florida was part of the Louisiana purchase, colonized the area, refusing to adhere to Spanish rule.) The United States negotiated an agreement whereby Spain, receiving no compensation, renounced all claim to West Florida. The United States did, however, agree to pay Spain $5 million in damages.

Answers to Trivia Questions about Alligators:

1. What's the difference between an American alligator and an American crocodile?

(e) All of the above

The crocodile, more sensitive to the cold than the alligator, is also a shy and reclusive animal, easily vexed by human activity. But the most visible differences between the two are their skulls, scales and smiles. The croc's skull is longer and narrower; his scales are light tan or brown where the alligator's are grayish black, and the croc has an pronounced underbite. (Although the fourth tooth on either side of the lower jaw is extremely long on both animals, when a gator closes its mouth these teeth disappear into sockets in the upper jaw, but when a croc closes its mouth, these teeth stick out.) Another difference between crocs and gators is their choice of homes. Gators prefer freshwater habitats, while crocs prefer coastal or saltwater habitats. Both alligators and crocodiles are protected by state and federal laws. The alligator is listed as a threatened species and the crocodile as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

2. True or False? Alligators and Crocodiles don't chew their food.

True. Gator's and croc's numerous teeth are used only for grasping, not chewing. These animals gulp their food in large chunks and rely on powerful stomach acids to break it down.

3. Like sharks, crocodiles and alligators never run out of teeth. As dull teeth fall out, newer, sharper teeth grow in.

More Trivia Questions:
What does the name Tallahassee mean?-- Tallahassee comes from two native American words, Talla and Hassee, meaning Old City or Old Town.

How old are alligators? -- Scientists have determined that alligators have existed for about 180 million years, surviving beyond dinosaurs and flying reptiles. The adult alligator has 80 teeth.

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