Saturday, March 8, 2014

[Herpetology / Behaviour • 2013] Climbing Behaviour in Extant Crocodilians


Fig. 2. A juvenile (+/- 0.7 m total length) Central African slender-snouted crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus) on a tree branch. Loango National Park, Gabon.

Abstract
 Although arboreality in extinct crocodilians is frequently suggested, the climbing abilities of extant crocodilians have never been discussed in any detail in scientific literature. We present an overview of published and anecdotal information on climbing in extant crocodilians, as well as original observations on four species representing two crocodile genera. These data suggest that climbing behaviour is common among crocodilians and might have multiple functions. The fact that at least some extant crocodilians are capable of climbing arboreal vegetation despite lacking any obvious morphological adaptations for arboreality must be taken into account by paleontologists trying to elucidate behavioural clues from the morphology of fossil taxa.

Keywords: arboreality, CrocodylusMecistops, Australian freshwater crocodile, Nile crocodile, American crocodile, slender-snouted crocodile, American alligator


Fig. 1. A sub-adult American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) perching on a tree branch in Pearl River Delta, Mississippi.
Photo by Kristine Gingras

Fig. 2. A juvenile (+/- 0.7 m total length) Central African slender-snouted crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus) on a tree branch. Loango National Park, Gabon.

Vladimir Dinets, Adam Britton and Matthew Shirley. 2013. Climbing Behaviour in Extant Crocodilians. Herpetology Notes. 7: 3-7 

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