What is the crocodile?
Crocodile is a reptile that includes 14 current subspecies. It is a semi – aquatic animal of tropical climates , with distribution in several continents: Africa , Asia , America and Oceania .
The present species present very few differences with respect to fossil specimens of which an age of 55 million years is calculated.
Specimens of the larger species can reach up to 6 meters long and weigh up to 800 kg.
Like other reptiles, they are ectothermic , meaning that their body temperature is not controlled by internal mechanisms of the organism but by their behavior. Therefore, they remain under the sun to warm themselves and to cool down they take refuge in underground burrows or in the water .
Characteristics of a crocodile
The body of the crocodiles is flat and elongated. The tail represents almost 50% of the total length. The ventral area is lighter in color than the upper part, and it is also softer. The upper part in most of the species is protected by ridges and bony protuberances.
The crocodiles have elongated mouths, sharp teeth and great power in the jaws, which allows them to break mollusk shells and bones of other animals.
Since all four limbs are short, the crocodiles move very slowly on land in comparison are their agile movements in the water, especially in shallow parts. On land, its maximum speed is between 2 and 4 km / h.
In the water, the palmate feet facilitate the speed but their movement is governed mainly by the tail.
The brain of the crocodile is small in relation to its body: it has the approximate size of a human thumb. However, it is characterized by having cerebral cortex , composed as in the case of humans by gray matter. Although it is scarce, the cortex allows it to have memory and a particular type of intelligence.
The great development of your cerebellum allows you to control complex movements, mainly in water.
Your most developed senses are sight and smell.
Crocodiles inhabit warm areas of Asia, Africa, North America, Central America and Australia. Since they are semi-aquatic animals, they live on the banks of rivers and in some cases on the marine coast.
These are super predatory carnivores , that is, they do not usually have predators that attack them. They are at the end of the food chain.
They are opportunists, they do not have a preference for specific prey, but they can attack any animal they encounter. Their strong jaws allow them to break the shells of crustaceans and turtles, but also attack large mammals like horses.
Crocodiles are oviparous from internal fertilization . The males reach sexual maturity at 16 and the female at 10.
In almost all subspecies of crocodiles the reproductive cycle begins in the spring. The males try to attract the females with bellows and compete with each other for the chance to reproduce.
The female puts an average of 40 fertilized eggs, varying in number according to the species. The eggs remain buried between 80 and 100 before hatching.
The sex of the crocodiles is not determined by their chromosomes but by the temperature during incubation.
The skin of the crocodile is covered with scales composed of keratin, the same hard component that forms the nail of human beings.
In addition, between the scales and below are small bone plates called osteoderms . Those plates are overlapped, which offers a flexible but tough defense on the animal’s back.
Differences with alligators
Although they are often confused by their appearance, crocodiles and alligators are reptiles that belong to different families and can be differentiated by a series of features:
- Snout . The alligator has a wider and U-shaped snout, while the crocodile is thin and V-shaped. In addition, the alligators have the lower jaw thinner than the upper one, unlike the crocodiles that have both jaws of the Same size.
- Scales . Alligators lack the spots and dimples that can be seen in the scales of crocodiles.
- Habitat . Although alligators and crocodiles can live in fresh water, only crocodiles are found in salt water.
Crocodiles in danger of extinction
The American crocodile is the subspecies of crocodile that has been in danger of extinction since 2007, although already in 1996 it had been classified as a vulnerable species. Currently there are less than 5,000 copies throughout the Americas.