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Tuesday Tetrapod: Crocodylus niloticus

Posted by tigerhawkvok on January 12, 2010 19:09 in tuesday tetrapod

After a very full past few weeks, finally I return for a pair of Tuesday Tetrapod updates. In light of my sister's trip to Egypt, the first tetrapod this week is Crocodylus niloticus, or the Nile Crocodile.

C. niloticus

C. niloticus. CC-BY-NC by Arno & Louise.

Looking way back at the post on G. gangeticus, there wasn't much specifics back then on the relationships or on the biology of the animals. Well, C. niloticus is a crocodylid, being more closely related to gavialidae than to alligatoridae. Like all extant crocodylomorphs, hatchling sex is TSD (temperature-dependant sex determination). Morphologically, they have a number of adaptations to their aquatic lifestyle, including a well-developed secondary palat with choanae that open behind the secondary palate that can be closed off to facilitate underwater feeding. They also have a "shunt" system that can change their four-chambered heart to functionally three-chambered for increased oxygen saving and submersion time (Franklin & Axelsson 1994 | summary).

C. niloticus is widespread throughout central Africa, and capable of growing to more than 5 meters in length. Additionally, C. niloticus has the strongest measured bite force of any extant animal, reaching 22 kN. In addition to more common fare, they have been observed feeding on giraffes, lions, leopards, and rhinoceroses. As of 1996, they are rated IUCN least concern.

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