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New Study: Crocodiles Do Actually Climb on Trees

tree crocodiles

When most people picture crocodiles, they think of them crawling on the ground or swimming in water—not definitely not climbing trees. However, a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, study has found that the “prehistoric” reptiles can actualy climb trees!

“Climbing a steep hill or steep branch is mechanically similar, assuming the branch is wide enough to walk on,” the authors wrote. “Still, the ability to climb vertically is a measure of crocodiles’ spectacular agility on land.”

A juvenile0.7 m total length Central African slender-snouted crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus) on a tree branch. Loango National Park, Gabon.

A juvenile0.7 m total length Central African slender-snouted crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus) on a tree branch.
Loango National Park, Gabon.

The crocodiles seen climbing trees, whether at night or during the day, were very skittish when being approached, jumping or falling into the water when an approaching people was as far as 10 meters away. This response led the researchers to believe that the tree climbing and basking are driven by two conditions: thermoregulation and surveillance of habitat.

crocodile climbing on tree

“The most frequent observations of tree-basking were in areas where there were few places to bask on the ground, implying that the individuals needed alternatives for regulating their body temperature,” the authors wrote. “Likewise, their wary nature suggests that climbing leads to improved site surveillance of potential threats and prey.”

The data suggests that at least some species of crocodile are able to climb trees despite lacking any obvious morphological adaptations to do so.

source:utk.edu



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