[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]
Greg Paul asked...
> Do juvenile crocodilians sometimes or often climb,
> in the manner of young monitors? Again, reference is needed.
While certain fossil crocs may perhaps have been specialised climbers
(Paul, has it been published yet?*), extant crocs can and
apparently **very occasionally** do climb. I've been aware of this
for years as I recall a segment on a TV documentary where a baby Nile
croc was climbing around in a tree about 5 ft off the ground.
Also, believe it or not, there were feral baby crocodiles running
around in England in the last century and the fact that they used to
hide up trees was often mentioned. Though I am certain I have read
this, and therefore have the reference somewhere in my library, I
can't find it: Michell and Rickard (1981), a book that deals with
lots of obscure and anecdotal zoological stuff and has a fair-sized
segment on the English crocodiles (during the last century, these
animals were referred to as 'debased saurians' and, some time in the
1850s, it was even suggested that they represented living, degenerate
descendants of dinosaurs) does not mention the tree-climbing bit.
There is no doubt that these animals were crocodiles, BTW, as some
specimens were preserved, stuffed and institutionalised. Woodcuts
were made of others.
Moving toward rather less dodgy ground, there have been occasional
references in the technical literature to occasional arboreality in
crocs. In one of his papers (either 1972, 1974 or 1977: haven't
had time to check) Alick Walker cited arboreality in primitive
crocodylomorphs as a character shared with birds, and noted
that extant crocodile juveniles apparently preserve this primitive
behaviour. Reviewing Walker's phylogenetic proposals, Tarsitano and
Hecht (1980) listed Walker's crocodile-bird characters, and, as
character (14), wrote..
'(14) Crocodilians were originally arboreal as evidenced by the
climbing ability of juvenile crocodilians, the morphology of the
tarsus, long humerus, pneumatization of the skull and limbs of
fossils crocodilomorphs, marked inward and forward curvature of the
lower half of the tibia and reduction of the first metatarsal.'
TARSITANO, S. and HECHT, M.K. 1980. A reconsideration of the
reptilian relationships of _Archaeopteryx_. _Zool. J. Linn. Soc._ 69:
Eberhard (Dino) Frey also mentions arboreality in extant crocs in his
FREY, E. 1988. Das Tragsystem der Krododile - eine biomechanische und
phylogenetische Analyse [The carrying system of crocodilians - a
biomechanical and phylogenetical analysis]. _Stuttgarter Beitrage zur
Naturkunde Seria A (Biologie)_ 426: 1-60.
(Note the spelling mistake in the title). This paper is (obviously)
all in German, and I only know about the arboreality section because
on the way back from a trip to Germany some student hitchhikers we
were travelling with pointed it out to me. Tree-climbing in crocs is
mentioned on p. 9. I will not quote the section as (a) I am unsure as
to which section specifically talks about arboreality and (b) it is
in German. Dino (pers. comm.) also told me that arboreality in small
crocodiles is entirely plausible.
The fact that small crocodiles, as well as things like bears and
goats, are able climbers indicates that such dinosaurs as small
theropods and ornithopods were surely capable of arboreality too.
Though this is a fashionable idea now, it is certainly not new and
was noted as early as 1866 (Naish, in prep.). Is anyone aware of any
climbing dinosaur references that predate 1866?
* No mention of it in the paper that names _Mekosuchus