Crocodiles (subfamily Crocodylinae) or true crocodiles are large semiaquatic reptiles that live throughout the tropics in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia. Crocodylinae, all of whose members are considered true crocodiles, is classified as a biological subfamily. A broader sense of the term crocodile, Crocodylidae that includes Tomistoma, is not used in this article. The term crocodile here applies to only the species within the subfamily of Crocodylinae. The term is sometimes used even more loosely to include all extant members of the order Crocodilia, which includes the alligators and caimans (family Alligatoridae), the gharial and false gharial (family Gavialidae), and all other living and fossil Crocodylomorpha.
Although they appear similar, crocodiles, alligators and the gharial belong to separate biological families. The gharial, with its narrow snout, is easier to distinguish, while morphological differences are more difficult to spot in crocodiles and alligators. The most obvious external differences are visible in the head, with crocodiles having narrower and longer heads, with a more V-shaped than a U-shaped snout compared to alligators and caimans. Another obvious trait is that the upper and lower jaws of the crocodiles are the same width, and the teeth in the lower jaw fall along the edge or outside the upper jaw when the mouth is closed; therefore, all teeth are visible, unlike an alligator, which possesses in the upper jaw small depressions into which the lower teeth fit. Also, when the crocodile's mouth is closed, the large fourth tooth in the lower jaw fits into a constriction in the upper jaw. For hard-to-distinguish specimens, the protruding tooth is the most reliable feature to define the species' family. Crocodiles have more webbing on the toes of the hind feet and can better tolerate saltwater due to specialized salt glands for filtering out salt, which are present, but non-functioning, in alligators. Another trait that separates crocodiles from other crocodilians is their much higher levels of aggression.
Crocodile size, morphology, behaviour and ecology differ somewhat among species. However, they have many similarities in these areas as well. All crocodiles are semiaquatic and tend to congregate in freshwater habitats such as rivers, lakes, wetlands and sometimes in brackish water and saltwater. They are carnivorous animals, feeding mostly on vertebrates such as fish, reptiles, birds and mammals, and sometimes on invertebrates such as molluscs and crustaceans, depending on species and age. All crocodiles are tropical species that, unlike alligators, are very sensitive to cold. They separated from other crocodilians during the Eocene epoch, about 55 million years ago. Many species are at the risk of extinction, some being classified as critically endangered.
|Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)|
|Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)|
The word "crocodile" comes from the Ancient Greek κροκόδιλος (crocodilos), "lizard", used in the phrase ho krokódilos tou potamoú, "the lizard of the (Nile) river". There are several variant Greek forms of the word attested, including the later form κροκόδειλος (crocodeilos) found cited in many English reference works. In the Koine Greek of Roman times, crocodilos and crocodeilos would have been pronounced identically, and either or both may be the source of the Latinized form crocodīlus used by the ancient Romans. Crocodilos or crocodeilos is a compound of krokè ("pebbles"), and drilos/dreilos ("worm"), although drilos is only attested as a colloquial term for "penis". It is ascribed to Herodotus, and supposedly describes the basking habits of the Egyptian crocodile.
The form crocodrillus is attested in Medieval Latin. It is not clear whether this is a medieval corruption or derives from alternative Greco-Latin forms (late Greek corcodrillos and corcodrillion are attested). A (further) corrupted form cocodrille is found in Old French and was borrowed into Middle English as cocodril(le). The Modern English form crocodile was adapted directly from the Classical Latin crocodīlus in the 16th century, replacing the earlier form. The use of -y- in the scientific name Crocodylus (and forms derived from it) is a corruption introduced by Laurenti (1768).
|American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)||Throughout the Caribbean Basin, including many of the Caribbean islands and South Florida.||A larger sized species, with a greyish colour and a prominent V-shaped snout. Prefers brackish water, but also inhabits lower stretches of rivers and true marine environments. This is one of the rare species that exhibits regular sea-going behaviour, which explains the great distribution throughout the Caribbean. It is also found in hypersaline lakes such as Lago Enriquillo, in the Dominican Republic, which has one of the largest populations of this species. Diet consists mostly of aquatic and terrestrial vertebrates. Classified as Vulnerable, but certain local populations under greater threat.|
|Orinoco crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius)||Colombia and Venezuela||This is a large species with a relatively elongated snout and a pale tan coloration with scattered dark brown markings. Lives primarily in the Orinoco Basin. Despite having a rather narrow snout, preys on a wide variety of vertebrates, including large mammals. It is a Critically Endangered species.|
|Freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus johnstoni)||Northern Australia||A smaller species with a narrow and elongated snout. It has light brown coloration with darker bands on body and tail. Lives in rivers with considerable distance from the sea, to avoid confrontations with saltwater crocodiles. Feeds mostly on fish and other small vertebrates.|
|Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis)||Endemic to the Philippines||This is a relatively small species with a rather broader snout. It has heavy dorsal armour and a golden-brown colour that darkens as the animal matures. Prefers freshwater habitats and feeds on a variety of small to medium sized vertebrates. This species is Critically Endangered and the most severely threatened species of crocodile.|
|Morelet's crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii)||Atlantic regions of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala||A small to medium sized crocodile with a rather broad snout. It has a dark greyish-brown colour and is found in mostly various freshwater habitats. Feeds on mammals, birds and reptiles. It is listed as Least Concern.|
|Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)||Sub-saharan Africa||A large and aggressive species with a broad snout, especially in older animals. It has a dark bronze coloration and darkens as the animal matures. Lives in a variety of freshwater habitats but is also found in brackish water. It is an apex predator that is capable of taking a wide array of African vertebrates, including large ungulates and other predators. This species is listed as Least Concern.|
|New Guinea crocodile (Crocodylus novaeguineae)||The island of New Guinea||A smaller species of crocodile with a grey-brown colour and dark brown to black markings on the tail. The young have a narrower V-shaped snout that becomes wider as the animal matures. Prefers freshwater habitats, even though is tolerant to salt water, in order to avoid competition and predation by the saltwater crocodile. This species feeds on small to mid-sized vertebrates.|
|Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris)||The Indian subcontinent and surrounding countries||This is a modest sized crocodile with a very broad snout and an alligator-like appearance. It has dark-grey to brown coloration. Enlarged scutes around the neck make it a heavily armoured species. Prefers slow moving rivers, swamps and lakes. It can also be found in coastal swamps but avoids areas populated by saltwater crocodiles. Feeds on a wide array of vertebrates.|
|Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)||Throughout Southeast Asia, Northern Australia and surrounding waters||The largest living reptile and most aggressive of all crocodiles. It is a big-headed species and has a relatively broad snout, especially when older. The coloration is pale yellow with black stripes when young but dark greenish-drab coloured as adults. Lives in brackish and marine environments as well as lower stretches of rivers. This species has the greatest distribution of all crocodiles. Tagged specimens showed long-distance marine travelling behaviour. It is the apex predator throughout its range and preys on virtually any animal within its reach. It is classified as Least Concern with several populations under greater risk.|
|Cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer)||Found only in the Zapata Swamp and Isle of Youth of Cuba||It is a small but extremely aggressive species of crocodile that prefers freshwater swamps. The coloration is vibrant even as adults and the scales have a "pebbled" appearance. It is a relatively terrestrial species with agile locomotion on land, and sometimes displays terrestrial hunting. The snout is broad with a thick upper-jaw and large teeth. The unique characteristics and fossil record indicates a rather specialized diet in the past, preying on megafauna such as the giant sloth. This species sometimes displays pack-hunting behaviour, which might have been the key to hunting large species in the past, despite its small size. Today most prey are small to medium sized vertebrates. It is Critically Endangered, and the remaining wild population is under threat of hybridization.|
|Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis)||Indonesia, Brunei, East Malaysia and southern Indochina||A fairly small crocodile that prefers freshwater habitats. It has a relatively broad snout and olive-green to dark green coloration. It feeds on a variety of small to mid-sized vertebrates. Listed as Critically Endangered, but might be already extinct in the wild; status is unknown.|
|West African crocodile (Crocodylus suchus)||Western and Central Africa||Recent studies revealed that this is distinct species from the larger Nile crocodile. It has a slightly narrower snout and is much smaller compared to its larger cousin.|
|Dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis)||Western Africa||It is the smallest of all living crocodiles. It belongs to its own monotypic genus; however, new studies indicate there might be two or even three distinct species. It is a heavily armoured species with uniform black coloration in adults, while juveniles have a lighter brown banding. Lives in the tropical forests of Western Africa. Feeds on small vertebrates and large aquatic invertebrates. It is a fairly terrestrial species and exhibits terrestrial hunting, especially at night. This species is classified as Vulnerable.|
|West African slender-snouted crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus)||Western Africa||A medium sized species with a narrow and elongated snout. Lives in freshwater habitats within tropical forests of the continent. Feeds mostly on fish but also other small to medium sized vertebrates. It is a Critically Endangered species.|
|Central African slender-snouted crocodile (Mecistops leptorhynchus)||Central Africa||A medium sized species found in watery areas in dense rainforest. Feeds largely on fish. Insufficient conservation data, but was classified as Critically Endangered when lumped with M. cataphractus, although M. leptorhynchus is doing better in its home range.|
A crocodile's physical traits allow it to be a successful predator. Its external morphology is a sign of its aquatic and predatory lifestyle. Its streamlined body enables it to swim swiftly; it also tucks its feet to the side while swimming, making it faster by decreasing water resistance. Crocodiles have webbed feet which, though not used to propel them through the water, allow them to make fast turns and sudden moves in the water or initiate swimming. Webbed feet are an advantage in shallow water, where the animals sometimes move around by walking. Crocodiles have a palatal flap, a rigid tissue at the back of the mouth that blocks the entry of water. The palate has a special path from the nostril to the glottis that bypasses the mouth. The nostrils are closed during submergence.
Like other archosaurs, crocodilians are diapsid, although their post-temporal fenestrae are reduced. The walls of the braincase are bony but lack supratemporal and postfrontal bones. Their tongues are not free, but held in place by a membrane that limits movement; as a result, crocodiles are unable to stick out their tongues. Crocodiles have smooth skin on their bellies and sides, while their dorsal surfaces are armoured with large osteoderms. The armoured skin has scales and is thick and rugged, providing some protection. They are still able to absorb heat through this armour, as a network of small capillaries allows blood through the scales to absorb heat. Crocodilian scales have pores believed to be sensory in function, analogous to the lateral line in fishes. They are particularly seen on their upper and lower jaws. Another possibility is that they are secretory, as they produce an oily substance which appears to flush mud off.
Size greatly varies among species, from the dwarf crocodile to the saltwater crocodile. Species of the dwarf crocodile Osteolaemus grow to an adult size of just 1.5 to 1.9 m (4.9 to 6.2 ft), whereas the saltwater crocodile can grow to sizes over 7 m (23 ft) and weigh 1,000 kg (2,200 lb). Several other large species can reach over 5.2 m (17 ft) long and weigh over 900 kg (2,000 lb). Crocodilians show pronounced sexual dimorphism, with males growing much larger and more rapidly than females. Despite their large adult sizes, crocodiles start their lives at around 20 cm (7.9 in) long. The largest species of crocodile is the saltwater crocodile, found in eastern India, northern Australia, throughout South-east Asia, and in the surrounding waters.
The largest crocodile ever held in captivity is a saltwater–Siamese hybrid named Yai (Thai: ใหญ่, meaning big; born 10 June 1972) at the Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo, Thailand. This animal measures 6 m (20 ft) in length and weighs 1,114 kg (2,456 lb).
The longest crocodile captured alive was Lolong, a saltwater crocodile which was measured at 6.17 m (20.2 ft) and weighed at 1,075 kg (2,370 lb) by a National Geographic team in Agusan del Sur Province, Philippines.
Crocodiles are polyphyodonts; they are able to replace each of their 80 teeth up to 50 times in their 35- to 75-year lifespan. Next to each full-grown tooth, there is a small replacement tooth and an odontogenic stem cell in the dental lamina in standby that can be activated if required.
Crocodilians are more closely related to birds and dinosaurs than to most animals classified as reptiles, the three families being included in the group Archosauria ('ruling reptiles'). Despite their prehistoric look, crocodiles are among the more biologically complex reptiles. Unlike other reptiles, a crocodile has a cerebral cortex and a four-chambered heart. Crocodilians also have the functional equivalent of a diaphragm by incorporating muscles used for aquatic locomotion into respiration. Salt glands are present in the tongues of crocodiles and they have a pore opening on the surface of the tongue, a trait that separates them from alligators. Salt glands are dysfunctional in Alligatoridae. Their function appears to be similar to that of salt glands in marine turtles. Crocodiles do not have sweat glands and release heat through their mouths. They often sleep with their mouths open and may pant like a dog. Four species of freshwater crocodile climb trees to bask in areas lacking a shoreline.
Crocodiles have acute senses, an evolutionary advantage that makes them successful predators. The eyes, ears and nostrils are located on top of the head, allowing the crocodile to lie low in the water, almost totally submerged and hidden from prey.
Crocodiles have very good night vision, and are mostly nocturnal hunters. They use the disadvantage of most prey animals' poor nocturnal vision to their advantage. The light receptors in crocodilians' eyes include cones and numerous rods, so it is assumed all crocodilians can see colours. Crocodiles have vertical-slit shaped pupils, similar to those of domestic cats. One explanation for the evolution of slit pupils is that they exclude light more effectively than a circular pupil, helping to protect the eyes during daylight. On the rear wall of the eye is a tapetum lucidum, which reflects incoming light back onto the retina, thus utilizing the small amount of light available at night to best advantage. In addition to the protection of the upper and lower eyelids, crocodiles have a nictitating membrane (sometimes called a "third eye-lid") that can be drawn over the eye from the inner corner while the lids are open. The eyeball surface is thus protected under the water while a certain degree of vision is still possible.
Crocodilian sense of smell is also very well developed, aiding them to detect prey or animal carcasses that are either on land or in water, from far away. It is possible that crocodiles use olfaction in the egg prior to hatching.
Chemoreception in crocodiles is especially interesting because they hunt in both terrestrial and aquatic surroundings. Crocodiles have only one olfactory chamber and the vomeronasal organ is absent in the adults indicating all olfactory perception is limited to the olfactory system. Behavioural and olfactometer experiments indicate that crocodiles detect both air-borne and water-soluble chemicals and use their olfactory system for hunting. When above water, crocodiles enhance their ability to detect volatile odorants by gular pumping, a rhythmic movement of the floor of the pharynx. Crocodiles close their nostrils when submerged, so olfaction underwater is unlikely. Underwater food detection is presumably gustatory and tactile.
Caudal: The upper and lower jaws are covered with sensory pits, visible as small, black speckles on the skin, the crocodilian version of the lateral line organs seen in fish and many amphibians, though arising from a completely different origin. These pigmented nodules encase bundles of nerve fibers innervated beneath by branches of the trigeminal nerve. They respond to the slightest disturbance in surface water, detecting vibrations and small pressure changes as small as a single drop. This makes it possible for crocodiles to detect prey, danger and intruders, even in total darkness. These sense organs are known as domed pressure receptors (DPRs).
Post-Caudal: While alligators and caimans have DPRs only on their jaws, crocodiles have similar organs on almost every scale on their bodies. The function of the DPRs on the jaws is clear; to catch prey, but it is still not clear what the function is of the organs on the rest of the body. The receptors flatten when exposed to increased osmotic pressure, such as that experienced when swimming in sea water hyperosmotic to the body fluids. When contact between the integument and the surrounding sea water solution is blocked, crocodiles are found to lose their ability to discriminate salinities. It has been proposed that the flattening of the sensory organ in hyperosmotic sea water is sensed by the animal as "touch", but interpreted as chemical information about its surroundings. This might be why in alligators they are absent on the rest of the body.
Crocodiles are ambush predators, waiting for fish or land animals to come close, then rushing out to attack. Crocodiles mostly eat fish, amphibians, crustaceans, molluscs, birds, reptiles, and mammals, and they occasionally cannibalize smaller crocodiles. What a crocodile eats varies greatly with species, size and age. From the mostly fish-eating species, like the slender-snouted and freshwater crocodiles, to the larger species like the Nile crocodile and the saltwater crocodile that prey on large mammals, such as buffalo, deer and wild boar, diet shows great diversity. Diet is also greatly affected by the size and age of the individual within the same species. All young crocodiles hunt mostly invertebrates and small fish, gradually moving on to larger prey. Being ectothermic (cold-blooded) predators, they have a very slow metabolism, so they can survive long periods without food. Despite their appearance of being slow, crocodiles have a very fast strike and are top predators in their environment, and various species have been observed attacking and killing other predators such as sharks and big cats. As opportunistic predators, crocodiles would also prey upon young and dying elephants and hippos when given the chance. Crocodiles are also known to be aggressive scavengers who feed upon carrion and steal from other predators. Evidence suggests that crocodiles also feed upon fruits, based on the discovery of seeds in stools and stomachs from many subjects as well as accounts of them feeding.
Crocodiles have the most acidic stomach of any vertebrate. They can easily digest bones, hooves and horns. The BBC TV reported that a Nile crocodile that has lurked a long time underwater to catch prey builds up a large oxygen debt. When it has caught and eaten that prey, it closes its right aortic arch and uses its left aortic arch to flush blood loaded with carbon dioxide from its muscles directly to its stomach; the resulting excess acidity in its blood supply makes it much easier for the stomach lining to secrete more stomach acid to quickly dissolve bulks of swallowed prey flesh and bone. Many large crocodilians swallow stones (called gastroliths or stomach stones), which may act as ballast to balance their bodies or assist in crushing food, similar to grit ingested by birds. Herodotus claimed that Nile crocodiles had a symbiotic relationship with certain birds, such as the Egyptian plover, which enter the crocodile's mouth and pick leeches feeding on the crocodile's blood; with no evidence of this interaction actually occurring in any crocodile species, it is most likely mythical or allegorical fiction.
Since they feed by grabbing and holding onto their prey, they have evolved sharp teeth for piercing and holding onto flesh, and powerful muscles to close the jaws and hold them shut. The teeth are not well-suited to tearing flesh off of large prey items as are the dentition and claws of many mammalian carnivores, the hooked bills and talons of raptorial birds, or the serrated teeth of sharks. However, this is an advantage rather than a disadvantage to the crocodile since the properties of the teeth allow it to hold onto prey with the least possibility of the prey animal escaping. Cutting teeth, combined with the exceptionally high bite force, would pass through flesh easily enough to leave an escape opportunity for prey. The jaws can bite down with immense force, by far the strongest bite of any animal. The force of a large crocodile's bite is more than 5,000 lbf (22,000 N), which was measured in a 5.5 m (18 ft) Nile crocodile, in the field; comparing to 335 lbf (1,490 N) for a Rottweiler, 800 lbf (3,600 N) for a hyena, 2,200 lbf (9,800 N) for an American alligator, and 4,095 lbf (18,220 N) for the largest confirmed great white shark. A 5.2 m (17 ft) long saltwater crocodile has been confirmed as having the strongest bite force ever recorded for an animal in a laboratory setting. It was able to apply a bite force value of 3,700 lbf (16,000 N), and thus surpassed the previous record of 2,125 lbf (9,450 N) made by a 3.9 m (13 ft) long American alligator. Taking the measurements of several 5.2 m (17 ft) crocodiles as reference, the bite forces of 6-m individuals were estimated at 7,700 lbf (34,000 N). The study, led by Dr. Gregory M. Erickson, also shed light on the larger, extinct species of crocodilians. Since crocodile anatomy has changed only slightly over the last 80 million years, current data on modern crocodilians can be used to estimate the bite force of extinct species. An 11-to-12-metre (36–39 ft) Deinosuchus would apply a force of 23,100 lbf (103,000 N), nearly twice that of the latest, higher bite force estimations of Tyrannosaurus (12,814 lbf (57,000 N)). The extraordinary bite of crocodilians is a result of their anatomy. The space for the jaw muscle in the skull is very large, which is easily visible from the outside as a bulge at each side. The muscle is so stiff, it is almost as hard as bone to touch, as if it were the continuum of the skull. Another trait is that most of the muscle in a crocodile's jaw is arranged for clamping down. Despite the strong muscles to close the jaw, crocodiles have extremely small and weak muscles to open the jaw. Crocodiles can thus be subdued for study or transport by taping their jaws or holding their jaws shut with large rubber bands cut from automobile inner tubes.
Crocodiles can move quickly over short distances, even out of water. The land speed record for a crocodile is 17 km/h (11 mph) measured in a galloping Australian freshwater crocodile. Maximum speed varies between species. Some species can gallop, including Cuban crocodiles, Johnston's crocodiles, New Guinea crocodiles, African dwarf crocodiles, and even small Nile crocodiles. The fastest means by which most species can move is a "belly run", in which the body moves in a snake-like (sinusoidal) fashion, limbs splayed out to either side paddling away frantically while the tail whips to and fro. Crocodiles can reach speeds of 10–11 km/h (6–7 mph) when they "belly run", and often faster if slipping down muddy riverbanks. When a crocodile walks quickly, it holds its legs in a straighter and more upright position under its body, which is called the "high walk". This walk allows a speed of up to 5 km/h.
Crocodiles may possess a homing instinct. In northern Australia, three rogue saltwater crocodiles were relocated 400 km (249 mi) by helicopter, but returned to their original locations within three weeks, based on data obtained from tracking devices attached to them.
Measuring crocodile age is unreliable, although several techniques are used to derive a reasonable guess. The most common method is to measure lamellar growth rings in bones and teeth—each ring corresponds to a change in growth rate which typically occurs once a year between dry and wet seasons. Bearing these inaccuracies in mind, it can be safely said that all crocodile species have an average lifespan of at least 30–40 years, and in the case of larger species an average of 60–70 years. The oldest crocodiles appear to be the largest species. C. porosus is estimated to live around 70 years on average, with limited evidence of some individuals exceeding 100 years.
In captivity, some individuals are claimed to have lived for over a century. A male crocodile lived to an estimated age of 110–115 years in a Russian zoo in Yekaterinburg. Named Kolya, he joined the zoo around 1913 to 1915, fully grown, after touring in an animal show, and lived until 1995. A male freshwater crocodile lived to an estimated age of 120–140 years at the Australia Zoo. Known affectionately as "Mr. Freshie", he was rescued around 1970 by Bob Irwin and Steve Irwin, after being shot twice by hunters and losing an eye as a result, and lived until 2010. Crocworld Conservation Centre, in Scottburgh, South Africa, claims to have a male Nile crocodile that was born in 1900. Named Henry, the crocodile is said to have lived in Botswana along the Okavango River, according to centre director Martin Rodrigues.
Crocodiles are the most social of reptiles. Even though they do not form social groups, many species congregate in certain sections of rivers, tolerating each other at times of feeding and basking. Most species are not highly territorial, with the exception of the saltwater crocodile, which is a highly territorial and aggressive species: a mature, male saltwater crocodile will not tolerate any other males at any time of the year, but most other species are more flexible. There is a certain form of hierarchy in crocodiles: the largest and heaviest males are at the top, having access to the best basking site, while females are priority during a group feeding of a big kill or carcass. A good example of the hierarchy in crocodiles would be the case of the Nile crocodile. This species clearly displays all of these behaviours. Studies in this area are not thorough, however, and many species are yet to be studied in greater detail. Mugger crocodiles are also known to show toleration in group feedings and tend to congregate in certain areas. However, males of all species are aggressive towards each other during mating season, to gain access to females.
Crocodiles are also the most vocal of all reptiles, producing a wide variety of sounds during various situations and conditions, depending on species, age, size and sex. Depending on the context, some species can communicate over 20 different messages through vocalizations alone. Some of these vocalizations are made during social communication, especially during territorial displays towards the same sex and courtship with the opposite sex; the common concern being reproduction. Therefore most conspecific vocalization is made during the breeding season, with the exception being year-round territorial behaviour in some species and quarrels during feeding. Crocodiles also produce different distress calls and in aggressive displays to their own kind and other animals; notably other predators during interspecific predatory confrontations over carcasses and terrestrial kills.
Specific vocalisations include —
Crocodiles lay eggs, which are laid in either holes or mound nests, depending on species. A hole nest is usually excavated in sand and a mound nest is usually constructed out of vegetation. Nesting periods range from a few weeks up to six months. Courtship takes place in a series of behavioural interactions that include a variety of snout rubbing and submissive display that can take a long time. Mating always takes place in water, where the pair can be observed mating several times. Females can build or dig several trial nests which appear incomplete and abandoned later. Egg-laying usually takes place at night and about 30–40 minutes. Females are highly protective of their nests and young. The egg are hard shelled, but translucent at the time of egg-laying. Depending on the species of crocodile, 7 to 95 eggs are laid. Crocodile embryos do not have sex chromosomes, and unlike humans, sex is not determined genetically. Sex is determined by temperature, where at 30 °C (86 °F) or less most hatchlings are females and at 31 °C (88 °F), offspring are of both sexes. A temperature of 32 to 33 °C (90 to 91 °F) gives mostly males whereas above 33 °C (91 °F) in some species continues to give males, but in other species resulting in females, which are sometimes called high-temperature females. Temperature also affects growth and survival rate of the young, which may explain the sexual dimorphism in crocodiles. The average incubation period is around 80 days, and also is dependent on temperature and species that usually ranges from 65 to 95 days. The eggshell structure is very conservative through evolution but there are enough changes to tell different species apart by their eggshell microstructure.
At the time of hatching, the young start calling within the eggs. They have an egg-tooth at the tip of their snouts, which is developed from the skin, and that helps them pierce out of the shell. Hearing the calls, the female usually excavates the nest and sometimes takes the unhatched eggs in her mouth, slowly rolling the eggs to help the process. The young is usually carried to the water in the mouth. She would then introduce her hatchlings to the water and even feed them. The mother would then take care of her young for over a year before the next mating season. In the absence of the mother crocodile, the father would act in her place to take care of the young. However, even with a sophisticated parental nurturing, young crocodiles have a very high mortality rate due to their vulnerability to predation. A group of hatchlings is called a pod or crèche and may be protected for months.
Crocodiles possess some advanced cognitive abilities. They can observe and use patterns of prey behaviour, such as when prey come to the river to drink at the same time each day. Vladimir Dinets of the University of Tennessee, observed that crocodiles use twigs as bait for birds looking for nesting material. They place sticks on their snouts and partly submerge themselves. When the birds swooped in to get the sticks, the crocodiles then catch the birds. Crocodiles only do this in spring nesting seasons of the birds, when there is high demand for sticks to be used for building nests. Vladimir also discovered other similar observations from various scientists, some dating back to the 19th century. Aside from using sticks, crocodiles are also capable of cooperative hunting. Large numbers of crocodiles swim in circles to trap fish and take turns snatching them. In hunting larger prey, crocodiles swarm in, with one holding the prey down as the others rip it apart.
The cladogram below follows the topology from a 2012 analysis of morphological traits by Christopher A. Brochu and Glenn W. Storrs. Many extinct species of Crocodylus might represent different genera. "Crocodylus" pigotti, for example, was placed in the newly erected genus Brochuchus in 2013. C. suchus was not included because its morphological codings were identical to those of C. niloticus. However, the authors suggested that the lack of differences was due to limited specimen sampling, and considered the two species to be distinct. This analysis found weak support for the clade Osteolaeminae. Brochu named Osteolaeminae in 2003 as a subfamily of Crocodylidae separate from Crocodylinae, but the group has since been classified within Crocodylinae. It includes the living genus Osteolaemus as well as the extinct species Voay robustus and Rimasuchus lloydi.
A 2013 analysis by Jack L. Conrad, Kirsten Jenkins, Thomas Lehmann, and others did not support Osteolaeminae as a true clade but rather a paraphyletic group consisting of two smaller clades. They informally called these clades "osteolaemins" and "mecistopins". "Osteolaemins" include Osteolaemus, Voay, Rimasuchus, and Brochuchus and "mecistopins" include Mecistops and Euthecodon.
The larger species of crocodiles are very dangerous to humans, mainly because of their ability to strike before the person can react. The saltwater crocodile and Nile crocodile are the most dangerous, killing hundreds of people each year in parts of Southeast Asia and Africa. The mugger crocodile and American crocodile are also dangerous to humans.
Crocodiles are protected in many parts of the world, but are also farmed commercially. Their hides are tanned and used to make leather goods such as shoes and handbags; crocodile meat is also considered a delicacy. The most commonly farmed species are the saltwater and Nile crocodiles, while a hybrid of the saltwater and the rare Siamese crocodile is also bred in Asian farms. Farming has resulted in an increase in the saltwater crocodile population in Australia, as eggs are usually harvested from the wild, so landowners have an incentive to conserve their habitat. Crocodile leather can be made into goods such as wallets, briefcases, purses, handbags, belts, hats, and shoes. Crocodile oil has been used for various purposes. Crocodiles were eaten by Vietnamese while they were taboo and off limits for Chinese. Vietnamese women who married Chinese men adopted the Chinese taboo. Crocodile meat is occasionally eaten as an "exotic" delicacy in the western world. Due to high demand for crocodile products, TRAFFIC states that 1,418,487 Nile Crocodile skins were exported from Africa between 2006 and 2015.
Crocodiles have appeared in various forms in religions across the world. Ancient Egypt had Sobek, the crocodile-headed god, with his cult-city Crocodilopolis, as well as Taweret, the goddess of childbirth and fertility, with the back and tail of a crocodile. The Jukun shrine in the Wukari Federation, Nigeria is dedicated to crocodiles in thanks for their aid during migration. In Madagascar various peoples such as the Sakalava and Antandroy see crocodiles as ancestor spirits and under local fady often offer them food; in the case of the latter at least a crocodile features prominently as an ancestor deity.
Crocodiles appear in different forms in Hinduism. Varuna, a Vedic and Hindu god, rides a part-crocodile makara; his consort Varuni rides a crocodile. Similarly the goddess personifications of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers are often depicted as riding crocodiles. Also in India, in Goa, crocodile worship is practised, including the annual Mannge Thapnee ceremony.
The term "crocodile tears" (and equivalents in other languages) refers to a false, insincere display of emotion, such as a hypocrite crying fake tears of grief. It is derived from an ancient anecdote that crocodiles weep in order to lure their prey, or that they cry for the victims they are eating, first told in the Bibliotheca by Photios I of Constantinople. The story is repeated in bestiaries such as De bestiis et aliis rebus. This tale was first spread widely in English in the stories of the Travels of Sir John Mandeville in the 14th century, and appears in several of Shakespeare's plays. In fact, crocodiles can and do generate tears, but they do not actually cry.
The name of Surabaya, Indonesia, is locally believed to be derived from the words "suro" (shark) and "boyo" (crocodile), two creatures which, in a local myth, fought each other in order to gain the title of "the strongest and most powerful animal" in the area. It was said that the two powerful animals agreed for a truce and set boundaries; that the shark's domain would be in the sea while the crocodile's domain would be on the land. However one day the shark swam into the river estuary to hunt, this angered the crocodile, who declared it his territory. The Shark argued that the river was a water-realm which meant that it was shark territory, while the crocodile argued that the river flowed deep inland, so it was therefore crocodile territory. A ferocious fight resumed as the two animals bit each other. Finally the shark was badly bitten and fled to the open sea, and the crocodile finally ruled the estuarine area that today is the city.
Another source alludes to a Jayabaya prophecy—a 12th-century psychic king of Kediri Kingdom—as he foresaw a fight between a giant white shark and a giant white crocodile taking place in the area, which is sometimes interpreted as a foretelling of the Mongol invasion of Java, a major conflict between the forces of the Kublai Khan, Mongol ruler of China, and those of Raden Wijaya's Majapahit in 1293. The two animals are now used as the city's symbol, with the two facing and circling each other, as depicted in a statue appropriately located near the entrance to the city zoo (see photo on the Surabaya page).
Most rivers are considered female and are personified as goddesses. Ganga, who features in the Mahabharata, is usually shown riding on a crocodile (see right).
The second distinguishing aspect of Ganga's iconography is her animal mount, which is often shown serving as a pedestal for her. This is the makara, a hybrid creature having the body of a crocodile and the tail of a fish. The makara in Hindu thought corresponds to the star sign of Capricorn in western astrology. The crocodile is a unique animal in that it can live on both land and sea. It thus denotes the wisdom of both the earth and waters.
The river goddesses, Ganga and Yamuna, were appropriately mounted on a tortoise and a crocodile respectively.
An alligator is a crocodilian in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. The two living species are the American alligator (A. mississippiensis) and the Chinese alligator (A. sinensis). Additionally, several extinct species of alligator are known from fossil remains. Alligators first appeared during the Oligocene epoch about 37 million years ago.The name "alligator" is probably an anglicized form of el lagarto, the Spanish term for "the lizard", which early Spanish explorers and settlers in Florida called the alligator. Later English spellings of the name included allagarta and alagarto.American crocodile
The American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) is a species of crocodilian found in the Neotropics. It is the most widespread of the four extant species of crocodiles from the Americas, with populations present from South Florida and the coasts of Mexico to as far south as Peru and Venezuela.
The habitat of the American crocodile consists largely of coastal areas. It is also found in river systems, but tends to prefer salinity, resulting in the species congregating in brackish lakes, mangrove swamps, lagoons, cays, and small islands. Other crocodiles also have tolerance to saltwater due to salt glands underneath the tongue, but the American crocodile is the only species other than the saltwater crocodile to commonly live and thrive in saltwater. They can be found on beaches and small island formations without any freshwater source, such as some of the many cays and islets across the Bahamas and the Caribbean. They are also found in hypersaline lakes; one of the largest known populations inhabits the Lago Enriquillo.The American is one of the larger crocodile species. Males can reach lengths of 6.1 m (20 ft 0 in), weighing up to 907 kg (2,000 lb). On average, mature males are more in the range of 2.9 to 4.1 m (9 ft 6 in to 13 ft 5 in) in length weighing up to about 400 kg (880 lb). As with other crocodile species, females are smaller; rarely exceeding 3.8 m (12 ft 6 in) in length even in the largest-bodied population.Like any other large crocodilian, the American crocodile is potentially dangerous to humans, though it tends not to be as aggressive as some other species.Caiman
A caiman is a crocodilian alligatorid belonging to the subfamily Caimaninae, one of two primary lineages within Alligatoridae, the other being alligators.Crocodile Dundee
Crocodile Dundee (stylised as "Crocodile" Dundee in the U.S.) is a 1986 Australian-American action comedy film set in the Australian Outback and in New York City. It stars Paul Hogan as the weathered Mick Dundee. Hogan's future wife Linda Kozlowski portrayed Sue Charlton. Inspired by the true-life exploits of Rod Ansell, the film was made on a budget of under $10 million as a deliberate attempt to make a commercial Australian film that would appeal to a mainstream American audience, but proved to be a worldwide phenomenon.
Released on 30 April 1986 in Australia, and on 26 September 1986 in the United States, it was the highest-grossing film of all-time in Australia, second-highest-grossing film in the United States in that year and went on to become the second-highest-grossing film worldwide at the box office as well, with an estimated 46 million tickets sold in the US. There are two versions of the film: the Australian version, and an international version, which had much of the Australian slang replaced with more commonly understood terms, and was slightly shorter. As the first film in the Crocodile Dundee film series, it was followed by two sequels: Crocodile Dundee II (1988) and Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles (2001), although both films failed to match the critical success of the predecessor.Crocodile Rehabilitation and Research Centre
The Crocodile Rehabilitation and Research Centre is a crocodile breeding and rearing park situated at Neyyar, a popular tourist destination near the city of Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, India.Crocodile attack
Crocodile attacks on humans are common in places where large crocodilians are native and human populations live. Less than half of the 25 crocodilian species have been involved in fatal attacks on humans, and only crocodilians about 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) in length or more represent a serious danger to humans, as smaller crocodilians are considered incapable of killing adults. However, even the smallest species can inflict painful bites requiring stitches. In addition, a small child may be of a similar size to the prey of some of the crocodilian species incapable of preying on adult humans. It has been estimated that about 1,000 people are killed by crocodilians each year.Crocodile coup
The Crocodile Coup is a play in the game contract bridge. It is executed by the defense: specifically by the second hand to play to a trick. It is the play of a higher card than might seem necessary, to keep a run of honors from being blocked by a singleton honor being in the other hand with either no entry back to the remaining tricks, or having to return the lead to declarer who can promptly dispose of his losers.
In the following example, West executes the Crocodile Coup:
With spades trump, South hopes to win four of the remaining five tricks. South leads the ♦4. Now:
If the East-West hands were reversed, it would take no special acumen for East to overtake West's ♦K and cash the ♦Q.Crocodile tears
Crocodile tears (or superficial sympathy) is a false, insincere display of emotion such as a hypocrite crying fake tears of grief.
The phrase derives from an ancient belief that crocodiles shed tears while consuming their prey, and as such is present in many modern languages, especially in Europe where it was introduced through Latin. While crocodiles do have tear ducts, they weep to lubricate their eyes, typically when they have been out of water for a long time and their eyes begin to dry out. However, evidence suggests this could also be triggered by feeding.
Bogorad's syndrome is a condition which causes sufferers to shed tears while consuming food, so has been labelled "crocodile tears syndrome" with reference to the legend.Crocodilia
Crocodilia (or Crocodylia) is an order of mostly large, predatory, semiaquatic archosaurian reptiles, known as crocodilians. They first appeared 95 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous period (Cenomanian stage) and are the closest living relatives of birds, as the two groups are the only known survivors of the Archosauria. Members of the order's total group, the clade Pseudosuchia, appeared about 250 million years ago in the Early Triassic period, and diversified during the Mesozoic era. The order Crocodilia includes the true crocodiles (family Crocodylidae), the alligators and caimans (family Alligatoridae), and the gharial and false gharial (family Gavialidae). Although the term 'crocodiles' is sometimes used to refer to all of these, crocodilians is a less ambiguous vernacular term for members of this group.
Large, solidly built, lizard-like reptiles, crocodilians have long flattened snouts, laterally compressed tails, and eyes, ears, and nostrils at the top of the head. They swim well and can move on land in a "high walk" and a "low walk", while smaller species are even capable of galloping. Their skin is thick and covered in non-overlapping scales. They have conical, peg-like teeth and a powerful bite. They have a four-chambered heart and, somewhat like birds, a unidirectional looping system of airflow within the lungs, but like other reptiles they are ectotherms.
Crocodilians are found mainly in lowlands in the tropics, but alligators also live in the southeastern United States and the Yangtze River in China. They are largely carnivorous, the various species feeding on animals such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs, birds, and mammals; some species like the Indian gharial are specialised feeders, while others like the saltwater crocodile have generalised diets. Crocodilians are typically solitary and territorial, though cooperative feeding does occur. During breeding, dominant males try to monopolise available females. Females lay eggs in holes or in mounds and, unlike most other reptiles, care for their hatched young.
Some species of crocodilians are known to have attacked humans. The largest number of attacks comes from the Nile crocodile. Humans are the greatest threat to crocodilian populations through activities that include hunting and habitat destruction, but farming of crocodilians has greatly reduced unlawful trading in wild skins. Artistic and literary representations of crocodilians have appeared in human cultures around the world since at least Ancient Egypt. The earliest known mention of the story that crocodiles weep for their victims was in the 9th century; it was later spread by Sir John Mandeville in 1400 and then by William Shakespeare in the late 16th century and early 17th century.Gharial
The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), also known as the gavial, and fish-eating crocodile is a crocodilian in the family Gavialidae, native to sandy freshwater river banks in the plains of the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. It is threatened by loss of riverine habitat, depletion of fish resources, and entanglement in fishing nets. As the wild population has declined drastically since the 1930s, the gharial is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
It once inhabited all the major river systems of the northern Indian subcontinent. Today, its distribution is limited to only 2% of its historical range. It inhabits foremost flowing rivers with high sand banks that it uses for basking and building nests. Adults mate in the cold season. The young hatch before the onset of the monsoon.
The gharial is one of the longest of all living crocodilians. Males reach a body length of up to 6 m (20 ft) and have a distinctive boss at the end of the snout, which resembles an earthenware pot known in Hindi as ghara. Its common name is derived from this similarity. With 110 sharp, interdigitated teeth in its long, thin snout, it is well adapted to catching fish, its main diet. Fossil remains were excavated in Pliocene deposits in the Sivalik Hills and Narmada River valley. It probably evolved 42 million years ago.List of natural horror films
Natural horror (also known as creature features) is a subgenre of horror films that features natural forces, typically in the form of animals or plants, that pose a threat to human characters.
Though killer animals in film have existed since the release of The Lost World in 1925, two of the first motion pictures to garner mainstream success with a "nature run amok" premise were The Birds, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and released in 1963; and Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 1975. Following Jaws, numerous horror films of a similar narrative were produced, including Grizzly (1976), Piranha (1978), and Alligator (1980). Today, natural horror films are still produced, with varying tones, such as Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2008) and The Shallows (2016).Madras Crocodile Bank Trust
The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Centre for Herpetology (MCBT) is a reptile zoo and herpetology research station, located 40 kilometres (25 mi) south of the city of Chennai, in state of Tamil Nadu, India. The centre is both a registered trust and a recognized zoo under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and is India's leading institution for herpeto faunal conservation, research and education. The bank is the first crocodile breeding centre in Asia and comes under the purview of the Central Zoo Authority, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. It was established with the aim of saving three Indian endangered species of crocodile—the marsh or mugger crocodile, the saltwater crocodile, and the gharial, which at the time of founding of the trust were all nearing extinction.
The CrocBank grounds are covered by coastal dune forest providing a haven for native wildlife, including large breeding colonies of water birds and a secure nesting beach for olive ridley sea turtles. The high aquifer on the sandy coast provides sufficient water supply and the proximity to the major tourist destination of Mahabalipuram ensures annual visitation. The centre is the biggest crocodile sanctuary in India. It covers 8.5 acres (3.4 ha) and had over 450,000 visitors in 2007. The centre has one of the world's largest collections of crocodiles and alligators and has bred 5,000 crocodiles and alligators representing 14 of the 23 existing species, including the three crocodile species, all considered endangered, that are native to India. As of 2011, the CrocBank has a total of 2,483 animals, including 14 species of crocodiles, 10 species of turtles, 3 species of snakes, and 1 species of lizard.Mugger crocodile
The mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), also called marsh crocodile, broad-snouted crocodile and mugger is a crocodilian native to freshwater habitats from southern Iran and Pakistan to the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka. It is extinct in Bhutan and Myanmar and has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1982.It is a medium-sized crocodile that inhabits lakes, rivers, marshes and artificial ponds. Both young and adult mugger crocodiles dig burrows where they retreat when temperature drops below 5 °C (41 °F) or exceeds 38 °C (100 °F). Females dig holes in the sand as nesting sites and lay up to 46 eggs during the dry season. Sex of hatchlings depends on temperature during incubation. It preys on fish, reptiles, birds and mammals. Young feed on insects.It is one of three crocodilians in India, apart from saltwater crocodile (C. porosus) and gharial (Gavialis gangeticus).Nile crocodile
The Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) is an African crocodile, the largest freshwater predator in Africa, and may be considered the second-largest extant reptile and crocodilian in the world, after the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). The Nile crocodile is quite widespread throughout sub-Saharan Africa, occurring mostly in the central, eastern, and southern regions of the continent, and lives in different types of aquatic environments such as lakes, rivers, and marshlands. Although capable of living in saline environments, this species is rarely found in saltwater, but occasionally inhabits deltas and brackish lakes. The range of this species once stretched northward throughout the Nile, as far north as the Nile delta. On average, the adult male Nile crocodile is between 3.5 and 5 m (11.5 and 16.4 ft) in length and weighs 225 to 750 kg (500 to 1,650 lb). However, specimens exceeding 6.1 m (20 ft) in length and weighing up to 1,090 kg (2,400 lb) have been recorded. Sexual dimorphism is prevalent, and females are usually about 30% smaller than males. They have thick, scaly, heavily armored skin.
Nile crocodiles are opportunistic apex predators; a very aggressive species of crocodile, they are capable of taking almost any animal within their range. They are generalists, taking a variety of prey. Their diet consists mostly of different species of fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals. They are ambush predators that can wait for hours, days, and even weeks for the suitable moment to attack. They are agile predators and wait for the opportunity for a prey item to come well within attack range. Even swift prey are not immune to attack. Like other crocodiles, Nile crocodiles have an extremely powerful bite that is unique among all animals, and sharp, conical teeth that sink into flesh, allowing for a grip that is almost impossible to loosen. They can apply high levels of force for extended periods of time, a great advantage for holding down large prey underwater to drown.Nile crocodiles are relatively social crocodiles. They share basking spots and large food sources, such as schools of fish and big carcasses. Their strict hierarchy is determined by size. Large, old males are at the top of this hierarchy and have primary access to food and the best basking spots. Crocodiles tend to respect this order; when it is infringed, the results are often violent and sometimes fatal. Like most other reptiles, Nile crocodiles lay eggs; these are guarded by the females. The hatchlings are also protected for a period of time, but hunt by themselves and are not fed by the parents. The Nile crocodile is one of the most dangerous species of crocodile and is responsible for hundreds of human deaths every year. It is a rather common species of crocodile and is not endangered despite some regional declines or extinctions.Paul Hogan
Paul Hogan, (born 8 October 1940) is an Australian comedian, actor and television presenter. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his performance as outback adventurer Michael "Crocodile" Dundee in Crocodile Dundee (1986), the first in the Crocodile Dundee film series.Ruskin Bond
Ruskin Bond (born 19 May 1934) is an Indian author of British descent. He lives with his adopted family in Landour, Mussoorie, India. The Indian Council for Child Education has recognised his role in the growth of children's literature in India. He was awarded the Sahitya Academy Award in 1992 for Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra, his novel in English. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1999 and the Padma Bhushan in 2014.Saltwater crocodile
The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) is a crocodilian native to saltwater habitats and brackish wetlands from India's east coast across Southeast Asia and the Sundaic region to northern Australia and Micronesia. It is among the largest crocodiles and regarded as dangerous by people who share the same environment. It was hunted for its skin throughout its range up to the 1970s, and is threatened by illegal killing and habitat loss.Males grow to a length of up to 6 m (20 ft), rarely exceeding 6.1 m (20 ft) or a weight of 1,000–1,075 kg (2,205–2,370 lb). Females are much smaller and rarely surpass 3 m (10 ft).
It is also known as the estuarine crocodile, Indo-Pacific crocodile, marine crocodile, sea crocodile or informally as saltie.The saltwater crocodile is a large and opportunistic hypercarnivorous apex predator. It ambushes most of its prey and then drowns or swallows it whole. It is capable of prevailing over almost any animal that enters its territory, including other apex predators such as sharks, varieties of freshwater and marine fish including pelagic species, invertebrates such as crustaceans, various reptiles, birds and mammals, including humans.Sobek
Sobek (also called Sebek, Sochet, Sobk, and Sobki), in Greek, Suchos (Σοῦχος) and from Latin Suchus, was an ancient Egyptian deity with a complex and fluid nature. He is associated with the Nile crocodile or the West African crocodile and is represented either in its form or as a human with a crocodile head. Sobek was also associated with pharaonic power, fertility, and military prowess, but served additionally as a protective deity with apotropaic qualities, invoked particularly for protection against the dangers presented by the Nile.Steve Irwin
Stephen Robert Irwin (22 February 1962 – 4 September 2006), nicknamed "The Crocodile Hunter", was an Australian zookeeper, conservationist and television personality. Irwin achieved worldwide fame from the television series The Crocodile Hunter (1996–2007), an internationally broadcast wildlife documentary series which he co-hosted with his wife Terri; the couple also hosted the series Croc Files (1999–2001), The Crocodile Hunter Diaries (2002–2006), and New Breed Vets (2005). They also owned and operated Australia Zoo, founded by Irwin's parents in Beerwah, about 80 kilometres (50 mi) north of the Queensland state capital city of Brisbane.
Irwin died at 44, after being pierced in the heart by a stingray barb while filming an underwater documentary film titled Ocean's Deadliest.
Extant Crocodilian species
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