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
April 2009

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!

1 comment:

Zach said...

Cute little guy. You know, gators and crocs are really pretty fat. We draw dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles with their ribs and scapulae pretty much visible under the skin, but what if they're all just as tubby as your average crocodilian?