Wildlife - Crocodile on beach

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Crocodile

  • SUMMARY

Crocodiles are among the more biologically complex reptiles despite their prehistoric look. They have a streamlined body that enables them to swim swiftly.

Crocodiles also tuck their feet to their sides while swimming, which makes the animal faster by decreasing water resistance. They have webbed feet which, although not used to propel the animal through the water, allow it to make fast turns and sudden moves in the water or initiate swimming. They have a rigid tissue at the back of the mouth that blocks entry of water and the palate has a special path from the nostril to the glottis that bypasses the mouth. The nostrils are closed during submergence and their scales (particularly seen on their upper and lower jaws) have pores that are believed to be sensory.

Crocodiles are very fast over short distances, even out of water. They have extremely powerful jaws capable of biting down with immense force, by far the strongest bite of any animal. As they feed by grabbing and holding onto their prey, they have evolved powerful muscles that close the jaws and hold them shut. The jaws are opened, however, by a very weak set of muscles. All crocodiles have sharp and powerful claws, however they have limited lateral movement in their neck.

Size greatly varies between species, from the dwarf crocodile to the enormous saltwater crocodile. Smaller species grow to an adult size of just 1 to 1.5 m while larger species can reach over 5m and weigh well over 1200kg.