A panoply of extant crocodilians

I have always liked crocodilians, but as a child only ever saw the odd large American alligator in a zoo or Nile crocs on TV. For a very long time I had no idea just how diverse the living crocodilians were and despite my interest in all things vertebrate would probably struggle to name more than a handful of species.

A combination of getting to a lot more zoos, and zoos generally becoming more eclectic in their collections means that I have now seen more than a dozen species at one time or another (though only two or perhaps three in the wild). For a while I’ve been building up a collection of photos of various taxa with a mind to doing some form of identity quiz. Darren Niash planned to host it at one time, but the last time we mentioned it was two years ago now I think, so I doubt I’m causing him any great problems by doing it here.

So, below the fold are a ton of croc photos from various zoos (sadly not all of them are great images for various reasons but should be good enough). Not all are different taxa (and nor are the photos of a given species consecutive), but there are around 10 different species represented here. Feel free to try and guess what they all are in the comments and more importantly, lots of crocs: cool!

13 Responses to “A panoply of extant crocodilians”


  1. 1 Tim Donovan 13/02/2012 at 1:09 pm

    Fabulous pics; I love crocodilians too. Is one a Cuban crocodile, by any chance? Not long ago, I made a remarkable discovery. Based on what I read in THE LAST OF THE RUING REPTILES, I had long assumed Morelet’s crocodile was practically gone. Yet some website was offering babies to the PUBLIC, albeit only in FL and at high prices. Like others, the species must’ve made a comeback.

  2. 2 David Ray 13/02/2012 at 5:17 pm

    My guesses: #3 is a black caiman (Melanosuchus niger). #4-5 = Tomistoma. I think #6 is a cuban (Crocodylus rhombifer) based on the greenish tint. #12 is a Siamese croc (C. siamensis)? I think #15 is a freshwater croc (C. johnstoni). The last one is so ugly is must be Osteolaemus. I’d love to see how I did.

    For anyone interested. There is a group leading the charge to sequence and assemble the genomes of three crocodilians. We are nearly done with initial sequencing and assemblies will be completed by summer (I hope). Please check our site: http://www.crocgenomes.org and our recent paper in Genome Biology (http://genomebiology.com/2012/13/1/415).

  3. 3 David Ray 13/02/2012 at 5:27 pm

    Oops. Forgot to respond to Tim. Morelet’s is doing very well. I did my PhD work on them in the early 2000’s there were nights during the dry season in Belize where you could see hundreds of eyeshines on the lagoons in the central parts of the country.

  4. 4 Jorge W. Moreno-Bernal 13/02/2012 at 7:00 pm

    Let´s see how right are my guesses:
    1-Alligator mississippiensis
    2-Crocodylus ?palustris
    3-Osteolaemus
    4, 5-Tomistoma schlegelii
    6, 7-Crocodylus ?acutus ?intermedius
    8-Crododylus ?porosus
    9-Crocodylus rhombifer
    10-Crocodylus sp
    11-Caiman crocodylus
    12-Caiman ?yacare
    13, 14-crocodylus porosus
    15-Osteolaemus

  5. 5 Robert A. Sloan 13/02/2012 at 7:06 pm

    I could tell the gharials – pictures number four and five were gharials. I always thought gharials’ mouths were interesting. I could more or less guess between crocs and alligators. There’s probably some caimans in there too.

    Picture Two looks like it has a bizarre big bony crest on its head! Is that real, or is that some feature in its enclosure that just looks like it’s growing out of the animal’s head? I’ve never seen anything like it! Looking forward to seeing someone with a better memory than mine successfully identify all ten of them.

    Right now my best guess is 4-5 Gharials, #6 is definitely some form of alligator, there’s lots of crocs and some of them might be caimans. Very curious about the rest. Only one seemed so unequivocally alligator that I was sure of it, and I wasn’t sure if it’s Chinese or American. Just see the shape of the head from shape of mouth. Leaning toward Chinese though.

    • 6 David Hone 13/02/2012 at 7:37 pm

      “Picture Two looks like it has a bizarre big bony crest on its head! Is that real, or is that some feature in its enclosure that just looks like it’s growing out of the animal’s head? ”

      Nah, it’s just the background rocks.

  6. 7 peteykins 13/02/2012 at 10:04 pm

    Haw, yes, picture #2 threw me for a loop at first, too.

    My favorites have always been the Gharials/Gavials. Now that is one really bizarre looking beast.

  7. 8 Marc Tollis 14/02/2012 at 12:09 am

    Awesome post! I’ve loved crocs since early childhood, when I learned they were the closest relatives of dinosaurs (the bird-theropod hypothesis had not yet taken hold – does that date me?).

    I posted last year about giant crocs, and the proposed breakup of C. niloticus:

    http://anolistollis.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/crocodiles-on-my-mind/

  8. 9 Paul W. 15/02/2012 at 2:23 am

    Six and seven look like mugger crocodiles. I have a few ideas on some of the others but I’d just be repeating what others have suggested already.

    I like how false gavials jaws become quite a lot more robust as they grow, suggesting a slight change in diet beyond what you would get with the natural size increase of the animal.

  9. 10 Darren Naish 15/02/2012 at 10:32 am

    Who is this ‘Darren Niash’? And, yes, sad to say – it can take me more than two years to get round to publishing something :)


  1. 1 A return to the crocdilian panoply « Dave Hone's Archosaur Musings Trackback on 18/02/2012 at 8:17 am

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