The Christian Science Monitor has reported that a bizarre orange alligator has been photographed in Florida.

A one-of-a-kind orange alligator was spotted in Venice, Florida, prompting some to speculate that after remaining unchanged for over 200 million years, the large, predatory reptiles may now taking a new evolutionary direction.

The now famous photo — which was taken by Sylvia Mythen in Venice, Florida — has quickly become an internet sensation. That having been stated, the wildlife officials who have seen the image claim that it is unlikely that the  gator is naturally orange. Florida Fish and Wildlife official Gary Morse had this to say about the phenomenon:

“The official opinion from our alligator experts is that this is alligator is not naturally orange. We believe it’s orange from paint, stain, iron oxide or some other element in the environment that has left a coating on the animal, making it appear orange.”

It has also been suggested that this creature may possibly be the victim of  an elaborate publicity stunt by the University of Florida Gators, whose colors are blue and orange.

Until the animal can be captured to confirm whether or not the pigmentation is genetic or artificial, this debate will no doubt rage on.

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