Crocodiles: The Modern Dinosaurs

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One of the Most Highly Adapted Animals

One of the most highly adapted animals on the planet are the crocodiles. The crocodiles have survived for 200 million years, during the time when dinosaurs were prowling the earth, almost unchanged.  This means that bodily structure and behavioral adaptations have become so sophisticated that they could adapt themselves very well in a highly dynamic ecosystem.

These animals are characterized by a hard armor of scutes that line the dorsal portion of its body. It has numerous teeth that incessantly grow and get replaced. Crocodiles can have 66 or more teeth! They have a strong tail that can whip its victim to unconsciousness. And it can easily see in the darkness. You can see their eyes glow red when shone with a flashlight.

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Cigarette-sized Brain

The crocodile’s brain is as small as a cigarette. This is encased in a hard skull. Despite this small brain, they have a keen sense of sight that can penetrate even through murky waters. They float like logs approaching their unsuspecting prey along the edges of a river. The animal strikes when the prey is unprepared. It will be very difficult for the victim to escape its grasp because it is clamped so hard. Scientists estimate the pressure generated by the strong masseter muscle at two tons! There is no way a victim could get out of it without getting mangled.

This mode of feeding is referred to as opportunistic predation. Opportunistic predation seem to be one of the most effective way by which animals are able to survive. They strike when opportunity comes, and they strike with ferocity. The saltwater crocodile in particular is a very aggressive species that even attacks humans.

Crocodiles are remnants of the past, but these remnants have proven to be very effective predators that cause people to treat them with awe.


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