I have been fascinated by Crocodiles & Alligators (Crocodilians) for many years now, I never seem to tire from watching wildlife shows about them. I can't quite say exactly why I've been fascinated in them for so long, probably because they've been around as long as Dinosaurs, but they continue to be here although like Dinosaurs and many others - are close to becoming extinct, yet they still remain! Like many species of animals alike, their biggest enemy is man, yet one of our greatest fears are Crocodiles & Alligators, along with many others. There are 23 species still left on Earth, of which I have detailed information of each below, all of which are way of popups which I decided to create for your convenience as well as mine.;o)
It's difficult to understand that of which we fear, but I honestly believe if we all took a little time getting to know them more, we may feel a little different towards them to what we do now. Don't get me wrong, not everybody hates them, or likes them for that matter, but fear is a major factor of why we choose not to like them no matter how much we know of them. So on this page I thought I would tell you a little about them, some you may already know, and some hopefully you may not know, hopefully after reading you'll get more of an understanding of Crocodilians.
Firstly I found this out only recently, that all Crocodilians possess 'integumentary sense organs' (ISOs)- that is, sensory cells present in the integumentary layer (skin). These ISOs are often called a number of different names, primarily because their exact function still hasn't been conclusively determined. In the Alligatorinae family (alligators & caimans) these are the only place that ISOs are found - the upper jaw, nose, around the eyes, lower jaw, even the upper palate. There are none elsewhere on the animal. ISOs in members of the Crocodylinae and Gavialinae family are not restricted to the head, but are distributed all over the body. Distribution varies between species, and this is possibly related to their function. On some areas (e.g. around the jaws) there is at least one ISO per scale. Basically ISOs around the jaws are mechanoreceptors which can detect pressure changes, these sense organs are used when the crocodile is underwater to sense the proximity of prey items. A fish swimming past the head of an alligator, for example, will fire the sense organs as pressure waves from its movement through water impinge upon the ISOs. At present, the only significance of the ISOs on the main body of true crocodiles is for identification purposes.
Here's an interesting fact, Crocodiles leap out of water, yes they do! Apparently several of the species leap vertically from time to time, but only a small amount actually lunge out of the water to surprise and capture prey. Crocodiles start the leap while stationary at the water's surface - they need to be able to see their target before they start to leap, and if the target is above them they'll tip their head upwards to get a better view.
Crocodiles can judge the distance to their target accurately - they have binocular vision in front of their heads so they can use parallax to estimate distance. Once ready, the crocodile immediately starts to use powerful sinusoidal undulations of its tail to literally push itself upwards out of the water. In under a second, the crocodile can raise itself several feet into the air.
Crocodilians tend to leap vertically more frequently when they are younger - leaping up to take small insects sitting on aquatic grasses, for example. Larger adults have been observed to leap upwards to take animals from overhanging branches. The Cuban Crocodile has turned this method of capturing prey into quite an art, taking arboreal mammals from the branches of trees overhanging the water. The larger the animal gets, the less of its body it can push out of the water - young sub-adults can usually leap clean out of the water by several feet, whereas larger adults have difficulty pushing more than their hind legs out of the water because of their increased weight.