|A crocodile is any species belonging to the family Crocodylidae (sometimes classified instead as the subfamily Crocodylinae). The term can also be used more loosely to include all members of the order Crocodilia: i.e. the true crocodiles, the alligators and caimans (family Alligatoridae) and the gharials (family Gavialidae), or even the Crocodylomorpha which includes prehistoric crocodile relatives and ancestors. Crocodiles are large aquatic reptiles that live throughout the Tropics in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia. Crocodiles tend to congregate in freshwater habitats like rivers, lakes, wetlands and sometimes in brackish water. Some species, notably the Saltwater Crocodile of Australia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands often live along the coastal areas. They are also known to venture far out to sea. They mostly feed on vertebrates like fish, reptiles, and mammals, sometimes with invertebrates like mollusks and crustaceans, depending on species. They are an ancient lineage, and are believed to have changed little since the time of the dinosaurs.
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. The crocodile's bite force is more than 5,000 pounds per square inch, comparing to just 335 psi for a Rottweiler, 690 psi for a large great white shark, or 800 psi for a hyena. They have sharp teeth for tearing and holding on to flesh, but cannot open their mouth if it is held closed, because the crocodile is evolved for biting down; the muscle space inside the skull is used up for muscle that closes the jaws. Zoologists will often subdue crocodiles for study or transport by taping their jaws or holding their jaws shut with large rubber bands cut from automobile inner tubes. All crocodiles also have sharp and powerful claws. They have limited lateral movement in their neck, so on land, protection can be found by getting even a small tree between the crocodile's jaws and oneself.
A male freshwater crocodile at the Australia Zoo is estimated to be 130 years old. He was rescued from the wild by Bob Irwin and Steve Irwin after being shot twice by hunters. As a result of the shootings, this crocodile (known affectionately as "Mr. Freshy") has lost his right eye.
The largest recorded crocodile is a giant saltwater crocodile measured at 8.6 meters (28.2 feet) shot in Australia, by a school teacher who later became a conservationist. The largest living crocodile is a 7.1 m (23.3 ft) long saltwater crocodile, in Orissa, India. It lives in Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and in June 2006, was entered in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The other two larger certifiable records of complete crocodile are both of 6.2 m crocodiles. The first crocodile was shot in the Mary River in the Northern Territory of Australia in 1974 by poachers and measured by wildlife rangers. The second crocodile was killed in 1983 in the Fly River, Papua New Guinea. In this latter crocodile it was actually the skin that was measured by zoologist Jerome Montague, and as skins are known to underestimate the size of the actual animal, it is possible this crocodile was at least another 10 cm longer.
The largest crocodile ever held in captivity is an Estuarine/Siamese hybrid named Yai (Thai: meaning big) (born 10 June, 1972) at the famous Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo, Thailand. This animal measured 6 m in length and weighs 1,114.27 kg (2,450 lb.).
Another huge captive specimen was a salt water crocodile named Gomek. Gomek was captured by George Craig in Papua New Guinea and sold to St. Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida. Gomek died of heart disease in February 1997. By this stage, he was a very old crocodile. When he died, he was 5.5 m long - as confirmed by St. Augustine Alligator Farm - and probably between 70 and 80 years old.
Wildlife experts, however, argue that the largest crocodile so far found in the Bhitarkanika was almost 7.62 m which could be traced from the skull preserved by the Kanika Royal Family. The crocodile, probably was shot dead near Dhamara during 1926 and later its skull was preserved by the then Kanika King. The crocodile experts said the crocodile would be about 7.62 m since the size of the skull was measured one seventh of the total length of the body.
Biology and behavior
Crocodiles eat fish, birds, mammals and occasionally smaller crocodiles. Wild crocodiles are protected in many parts of the world, but they also are farmed commercially. Their hide is tanned and used to make leather goods such as shoes and handbags, whilst crocodile meat is also considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. The most commonly farmed species are the Saltwater and Nile crocodiles, while a hybrid of the Saltwater and the rare Siamese Crocodile is also bred in Asian farms. Farming has resulted in an increase in the Saltwater Crocodile population in Australia, as eggs are usually harvested from the wild, so landowners have an incentive to conserve crocodile habitat. Crocodiles are more closely related to birds and dinosaurs than to most animals classified as reptiles, the three being included in the group Archosauria ('ruling reptiles').
Crocodile as food
Differentiation from alligators
Taxonomy of the Crocodylidae
Most species are grouped into the genus Crocodylus. The two other living genera of this family are both monotypic: Osteolaemus and Tomistoma.
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