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Re: Tall Croc Tales (was Sauropod Necks As Weapons)

Adam Britton wrote:
> The idea that crocs usually aim for the head is simply not true. They
> typically attack whatever is closest to their jaws, which may be a head
> bending to drink, feet entering shallow water, or someone's fat arse. It's
> easier to get your teeth around a snout than an arse, however, which might
> prove misleading if you only see the results. But if you don't believe me,
> check the documented crocodile attacks on humans in Australia. 

I did (Via Graeme Webb's "Crocs of Australia"). Apparently most fatal
attacks happen
in the water, at night, and involve a high blood alcohol content. Of
people killed on land (including the waters edge), most were bending
in some way. It seems that attacks on standing humans on land seem to
in mostly non-fatal (but substantial) leg injuries.

> You'll find
> none report "tail swiping". All survivors report the crocodile seizing them
> by a limb, their body, or their head - whatever was in reach of the croc
> underwater or when it breached the surface. Of those that did not survive,
> witnesses describe the crocodile attacking with the head and dragging the
> body underwater. And yes, there are documented attacks on the arse.

Of course, if the tail swipe IS used (and that seems to be an
big 'if'), maybe it proves so successfull that there are no survivors to
tell of it (witnesses may be so surprised by the behaviour that they
dead in amazement). :)

> Looked in any croc stomachs lately? You'll be surprised what you find in 
> there.

Indeed. Apparently the stomach of even the largest croc is only about
the size
of a basketball. Contents range from the usual fish, to things like
flying foxes, human parts and a range of man-made materials. Fresh water
crocs eat a lot of insects as well.

To be serious for a moment (no, really) I found it interesting that all
salties have gastroliths once they reach at least 2m in length, yet
below this length stones don't seem to be required at all (crocs without
them survive just as well as those with them). Once this size is
reached, however, crocs living in tidal river systems where there are no
rocks are forced to swim large distances to gather them. Either it is
related to the changes in diet as crocs get bigger, or larger crocs
desperately need balast (or a combination of both). 

I wonder if gastroliths have ever been found in small dinosaurs? If not,
then balast may not be an issue (assuming crocs and dinos used them for
the same purpose).

> We all had a good laugh here when we read this! How many months or years
> would you suggest that I spend in croc country before I become sufficiently
> enlightened to hold an adult discussion with you?

Until your body is covered in no less than 28.59% scar tissue resulting
failed croc attacks. After complex calculations (way too complex to be
included here) I've found this to be the statistically optimum
that will result in maximum exposure to croc behaviour, yet still allow
for a 50:50 chance of survival. Your lower legs in particular will be
for tail abrasions.
> I originally asked for more information on the reports you posted. Your
> answers seem to indicate you don't have anything else to offer.

As Lionel Hutz once said: "rumour and inuendo are KINDS of evidence".

> You know, there are people who work on crocs who
> don't just jump 'em and shout "Crikey! Take a look at this beauty!"

You lie! You'll be saying there's no Santa Claus next. 

As an archaeologist I ALWAYS turn up to field work in a leather hat,
with a machete, a leather whip
and a loaded gun.

> Anyway, after an enjoyable evening where my colleagues and I regaled each
> other with croc stories over a few decent beers, we all agreed there was no
> compelling evidence that crocs swipe prey off its feet using the tail.
> However, we especially love stories from Queensland, so we're happy to
> listen to any evidence you've got!

The truth is out there...


Dann Pigdon                   Australian Dinosaurs:
GIS / Archaeologist         http://www.geocities.com/dannsdinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia        http://www.alphalink.com.au/~dannj/