African crocodile facts and information | Sense Africa

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Crocodile facts3rd March '20

Crocodile facts

Here are top 10 crocodile facts.

1. Saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) are the world’s largest living reptiles. The average male is 5m in length and weighs around 500kg, with the largest ever recorded being 6.3m long!

2. A human can outrun a crocodile, a crocodile can achieve 12–14kph but only for a short time, and slower than a fit human. So if you’re in reasonable shape, you could definitely outrun a croc. Or travel with someone not as fit as you.

3. Crocodiles have three ways of moving: the belly-crawl which is used over mud; the high walk which is when the legs push the body up off the ground; and the ‘gallop’, where they bound like a rabbit. It is thought that ancient croc-like creatures galloped after prey when on land, today they only gallop to escape danger.

Crocodile cooling

4. The temperature of the nest in which eggs are laid determines the sex of the offspring. Lower incubation temperatures produce mostly females; higher temperatures mostly males.

5. Saltwater crocodiles have long lifespans, many living to more than 65 years. In captivity, there have been several reports of crocodiles living to be over 100 years old.

6. Only 1% of newborn crocodiles will survive to adulthood.

7. Crocodiles sleep with one eye open, they join several aquatic mammals and birds capable of unihemispheric sleep, which involves shutting down half of their brain at a time, keeping the other half alert to danger. The right eye remains open when the left side of the brain is awake, and vice versa.

Crocodile

8. Crocodiles can travel long distances by sea, sometimes as much as 900km.

9. Crocodiles can open their mouths underwater without drowning because they have a valve at the bottom of the mouth that seals off the throat so they can hunt underwater.

10. The “death roll” is a hunting behaviour needed for larger prey. After drowning its victim, the crocodile rapidly rolls it in the water in order to remove its limbs, as its teeth are designed for gripping rather than tearing flesh.

Crocodiles & global warming

Crocodiles were found nearly 85 million years ago. Their ancient relatives have often suffered when temperatures decreased or sea levels fluctuated. These climatic changes have been responsible for many species going extinct. With the earth warming up, could we see reptiles that date back to the time of the dinosaurs? Philip Mannion, from the Imperial College London, has looked at the rise and fall of these living fossils.

Around 250 million years ago, their now extinct relatives emerged and gave way to crocodylians around 85 million years ago. There were as many as 500 pseudosuchian species which came in all shapes and sizes; a land based creature around 12 m long, weighing up to 8 tons and a sea based creature that had flippers and a shark-like tails making it agile in the sea. Most crocodylians managed to survive the extinction that killed off dinosaurs 66 million years ago and some species benefited after, expanding their ranges amid a dearth of competitors.

Over many years, the number of crocodylian species has dropped to 23. Years ago these creatures thrived but as temperatures cooled the crocodylians retreated to the warmer parts of the world with water, where they could survive.

However, a warming world could lead to crocodiles, alligators and their relatives expanding their ranges – as they did 66 million years ago. It could even leading to increased species diversification. This would depend on the impact of humans on their habitat, such as coastal development, pollution, hunting and habitat fragmentation. As the Earth continues to warm, the higher temperatures should promote an increase in crocodylian biodiversity and the expansion of their range into areas outside of the tropics.

Just don’t expect to see crocodiles roaming the streets of London quite yet though!

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