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>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.

Probably not (see below).

 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. o.
>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?

I asked Adam Britton, an extant croc expert at Univ. Queensland who has
seen literally everything ever televised about crocs, about this.  Here's
his response:

>The only species to which any degree of climbing has been attributed is
>Osteolaemus tetraspis, although in this case I've only been told this by
>various keepers of this species who say that smaller animals in particular
>are quite agile and able to climb sloping surfaces (e.g. fallen logs) with
>much greater ease than other species. As you know, Osteolaemus is somewhat
>more terrestrial in nature than most other crocs, being perhaps the
>African analog of the two Paleosuchus species in some respects (which
>also be fairly good at climbing, but I've never read or heard anything on
>these lines).
>But climbing trees? I think that's pushing it a bit too far. Osteolaemus
>needs to climb over low obstacles such as roots, fallen trunks, rocks etc
>in order to successfully get anywhere on land, but it simply does not have
>the physical attributes to haul itself up a near-vertical tree trunk - only
>three claws on the front and hind feet is not the successful plan of an
>arboreal species, nor would it have the strength to haul itself up a tree
>once it exceeded a certain size - and I doubt many hatchlings would take
>leopards (a vision of pack-hunting baby crocs briefly appears in my
>Jumping, of course - now that's a different matter. Most species easily
>have the power (if nothing else) to propel themselves out of the water
>using their tail, even larger animals - most crocs seem to be able to get
>themselves at least 2 to 3 metres out of water. The jumping record is held
>by C. rhombifer in which even adults can apparently get most of their body
>out of the water with ease (although they're not such big crocs next to,
>say, salties).
>Maybe with a combination of a small leap and a bit of a climb up a sloped
>(not vertical) trunk, a croc could be mistaken for climbing a tree, but
>certainly they're just not equipped for any real kind of climbing.
>Otherwise, you'd have rather a lot of croc escapes from enclosures
>surrounded by chainlink fence or those with trees overhanging said fence.
>As an aside, you've probably heard the story of the Japanese soldiers in
>WWII being trapped in a swamp and massacred by the hundred, eaten by
>crocodiles? Well, regardless of the veracity of this story, there's another
>version which I've heard - where the Japanese were actually entrenched in a
>small camp surrounded by a fence. The crocodiles (from the swamp,
>presumably) entered the camp by climbing over the fence and up the trees,
>dropping onto the unsuspecting soldiers as they passed below! I think
>someone's been watching too many Michael Crichton films, but the idea of
>tree-climbing crocs isn't totally new. Still, the fact that all these
>stories are
>apocryphal detracts yet further from their believability, and I can't
>recall any references which mention climbing something like trees.

Christopher Brochu
Department of Geology
Field Museum of Natural History
Roosevelt Road at Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605

312-922-9410 x469