Tet Zoo picture of the day # 14

i-595f1ce6f9073bd8f3a28aa0be606ed1-lunging croc.jpg

Here is a cool photo, taken by either Steve Salisbury or Dino Frey, and previously published in a short article of mine on crocodilians. Initially I was going to use a really neat photo I have of a Cuban crocodile Crocodylus rhombifer leaping vertically from the water to grab a dead hutia, but then I became unsure about copyright and opted for something else. The photo featured here is of an Indopacific/Estuarine/Saltwater crocodile C. porosus. Unlike other Crocodylus, C. porosus possesses twin longitudinal ridges running along the length of the snout, and it lacks postoccipital scutes. It can be huge, reaching 7 m and exceeding 1 ton. So much more to say, I .. must.. resist.. Anyway, I really like this picture as it shows the croc engaging in a vertical lunge, and that's just cool.

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10 meters long? Are you sure of this? The maximum length I've heard of for Saltwater crocodyles was 7 m long.

If that 10 m long measure is correct, then that's a nearly Deinosuchus or Sarcosuchus-sized specimen!

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The skull of the alleged 10m crocodile was measured, and estimated to belong to a crocodile of only 4,8m. There are several similar cases in which alleged monster animals turned out to be much smaller than claimed.

I agree with pedro...I haven't heard any living croc to reach over 7 m. I think the largest of C. Porosus have reached something like 6 m.
I just recently read about this "bengal monster". Apparently the it's skull was stored to British museum but when the skull was re-measured the estimate was that the skull came from individual that was aproximately 5 m long.

I once found a note at the crocodile specialist newsletter 2006 about the skull of a saltwater crocodile which was shot in 1929 by the king of Majurbhanj. The crocodile was originally said to be 6m, and the skull has a length of 86cm, so it was probably even a bit longer, because already a crocdile with a 79-80cm long skull would be around 6m. But perhaps it had either an unproportionally big skull (given the fact that many reptiles get proportionally bigger heads when they grow big, this would not be surprising) or it had once lost a piece of its tail.
Anyway, this is one of the very few cases in which there is actual physical evidence for a crocodile of "only" 6m. I´m still sceptical about the alleged 7m crocs which shall live in some asian lake.
Some time ago I saw a report about an asian crocodile farm, where the world´s largest captive crocodile lives. You have surely already heard of Yai, and that it is a hybrid. I have seen already some pictures of it, but to see it moving is really amazing. I really dwarfs all the other crocs in his pool, what is also interesting if you keep in mind that it is not the only hybrid of its kind there, but by far the largest.

which shall live in some asian lake.

In case someone wonders, that's German for "are said to live".

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 10 Jun 2007 #permalink

I very much doubt that 10m estimate-- in a conversation with the people at the croc farm in India many years ago, a certain expert said that the max recorded size was apparently only around 6.7m. A. Greer had note in the J of Herp discussing this topic in which he mentions that some earlier investigators (I think Barbour) had claimed 9-10 m sizes for some C.porosus skull stored in a British museum obtained from eastern India (May be the Bengal specimen you mention above). But Bellairs apparently recalculated it a much lower size~5.5m.

Allen mentions that in genus Crocdylus there seems to be a fairly strict ratio of skull to body length of 1:7.5.
So we are talking of a skull of 1.33 m. Let me known if someone needs the ref.

As an aside I have watched C.porosus chicks live in action-- they were very aggressive making a hissing noise and taking a goat straying close to the pond-side. I was playing with them with a pen and one of them bit right through and pulled out its cap - teeth embedded in it.

By Rajita Rajvasishth (not verified) on 10 Jun 2007 #permalink

To everyone following the comments about maximum size: I am waiting for a new reference to arrive before discussing this further .... Actually, what the hell, I am going to change the main text accompanying the photo and explain what happened later.

As someone with a long interest in crocodilians, I have always thought that the maximum authenticated (note: authenticated) length for a Saltwater croc was about 7 m, and even that is at the big end of things. I was familiar with the fact that the Bay of Bengal specimen, collected in 1840 and now at the NHM in London, had been down-sized from an alleged 10.1 m to 5.89 m (the re-sizing is covered in many popular and semi-technical books on crocodilians, e.g. Steel 1989).

What has confused me, however, is an apparently trustworthy recent reference: while checking Trutnau & Sommerlad's (2006) entry on C. porosus I was surprised to read 'One specimen, which was killed in Bengal in 1840, has a verified length of 10.05 m (Brazaitis 2001)'. The fact that this is a relatively new and highly credible source - itself citing a recent reference by a well-known crocodilian biologist (herpetologist Peter Brazaitis, formerly of Central Park Zoo, NY) - made me think that some revision had occurred of the 1840 specimen. This is why I mentioned the 10 m length.

So what has happened? Did Brazaitis not know about the down-sizing of the 1840 specimen, and did Trutnau & Sommerlad follow him? I haven't seen the 'Brazaitis 2001' reference in question and don't know the full citation, but I'm very keen to see it. For now, I have changed the text, but I'm not yet at the bottom of this...

If anyone has the 'Brazaitis 2001' reference I'd be very interested, thanks.

Refs - -

Steel, R. 1989. Crocodiles. Christopher Helm, London.

Trutnau, L. & Sommerlad, R. 2006. Crocodilians - Their Natural History & Captive Husbandry. Frankfurt am Main.

I've decided to quote the entire section from Trutnau & Sommerlad (2006) on large specimens of C. porosus. I lack the reference section from the book, so cannot cite the citations they provide...

Overall length: Usually to 5.5 m, maximum to 9 m, perhaps even to 10 m (Wermuth & Fuchs 1978), around 9 m (Groombridge 1987).
According to Steel (1989), the saltwater crocodile is the largest living crocodilian, which reaches with certainty a total length of 9 m. According to Wermuth & Fuchs (1978), Crocodylus porosus can grow as big as 10 m. One specimen, which was killed in Bengal in 1840, has a verified length of 10.05 m (Brazaitis 2001).
Many size data eventually turn out to be exaggerations. For example, a saltwater crocodile shot in 1823 by Paul De La Gironnière near Jala Jala on the island of Luzon (Philippines) was supposed to be 8.2 m long. The skull of this animal, which is in possession of Harvard University today, has a total length of 64.77 cm, from which the length of the whole animals [sic] can be calculated as 6 m. For two additional animals, shot in what is Bangladesh today with skull lengths of 75 cm and 65.5 cm, lengths of 7.6 m and 10.1 m are given, while the calculations only give 6.7 m and 5.89 m. In June of 2003, during a private trip to Europe, Peter Taylor, Zoological Manager of the Herpetarium of the St. Louis Zoo in the State of Missouri, found a gigantic Crocodylus porosus skull, which measured 98.2 cm and weighs over 25 kg, in the collection of the paleontological museum of Paris (Taylor, written comm, 2003). According to Banks (1931), the overall length of Crocodylus porosus is a little more than 7 times the length of the skull, so the Paris item must have been about 6.9 m long when alive.

The authors go on to talk about giant salties known only from anecdote, such as Kris Palawski's 1957 animal (apparently 8.64 m long), and then hybrids, such as Yai and Utan. Note that a specimen re-sized to 5.89 m (presumably the 1840 specimen) is discussed as if it's different from the 10.05 m long specimen mentioned by Brazaitis (2001).

Well, I was always fascinated by oversized freaks, but there are so many cases in which such animals turned out to be in fact much smaller, that I am now highly sceptical in everything which is much over the actual recorded maximum sizes. I have mad a lot of research about this, especially in the case of the wels catfish Silurus glanis, whose length is often claimed to be untill 5m. In fact the largest one was only 2,78m, with probably some speciemens about 3m from the last centuries. Stories about larger specimens had always strange features, for example completely unrealistic length-weight-ratios. In one case I actually found out that an alleged monster wels catfish on an old photo was actually a Huso huso.
There are so many stories about giant sharks, crocodiles, snakes and several fish, but actual evidence is nearly always missing.

A small additional note Darren. I´ve seen you´ve downsized the length from 10 to 7m, but you should alter the weight also. Given the known length-weight-relations of crocodiles (for example from yai), a 7m crocodile would have a weight roughly between 1500-1700kg (and a 10m one more than 4600kg...).

im sure just like shaq is over 7 feet and an avg man is under 6 foot im sure a reptile that has a good food source and lives longer than us can get huge.besides in this world of extinct animals do we really think we know more or have seen more than people in the 1800s when there wer plenty of crocs tigers lions etc.the fact is there are 3 known crocs in orissa right now that are 20 to 23 ft long.my bet is you cannot accurately downsize a croc skull because some researcher cant accept the fact that although now rare for every 1000 or so crocs there are big old giant crocs out there and they got that big by being smart.