Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Photo of the Day #32: Dwarf Crocodile
(West African) Dwarf crocodile
Osteolaemus tetraspis Cope, 1861
Crocodylidae; Crocodilia; Sauropsida; Chordata
Whipsnade Wild Animal Park
The smallest of the crocodiles, and quite alligator-like, the dwarf crocodile is found in west and central Africa in typically wet rainforest habitat. Although maximum lengths of nearly 2 m (over 6') have been recorded, typically they grow to 1.5 m (5') in length. Osteolaemus comes from the Ancient Greek words for 'bone' and 'throat'. This is a good description of the hardened scales, known as osteoderms, present on the crocodile's underside, hence partially protecting it from predation. This species shares its range with the slender-snouted crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus), and of course the well-known Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus). Both could potentially make a meal out of poor little Osteolaemus!
Well, I'm off to North Cyprus again tomorrow, and this blog will (hopefully) be updated with photos and anecdotes from the trip when I get back. You may even be lucky enough to get a sneak peek at some photos as soon as I get to upload them!