Most people entering crocodile territory keep a wary eye out on water and land, but research suggests they need to look up.
Though the reptiles lack obvious physical features to suggest this is possible, crocodiles in fact climb trees all the way to the crowns, according to University of Tennessee researcher Vladimir Dinets.
Researchers in the climbing study observed crocodiles in Australia, Africa and North America. The study documented crocodiles climbing as high as 1.8m off the ground.
However, Dinets said he received anecdotal reports from people who spend time around crocodiles of the reptiles climbing to almost 9m above ground.
Dinets said crocodiles lack the toe and foot structure that would be expected of a climber. However, smaller and juvenile crocodiles in particular were observed climbing vertically while larger ones tended to climb angled trunks and branches, all of which is a measure of the reptiles’ spectacular agility, he said.
“They just go slowly. Eventually they get there,” he said.
The finding was reported last month in Herpetology Notes in collaboration with Adam Britton from Charles Darwin University in Australia and Matthew Shirley from the University of Florida.
The researchers believe the crocodiles climb to keep a lookout on their territory and to warm themselves in the sun.
“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,” they wrote.
People who spend time around crocodiles have known about the climbing ability for decades, Dinets said, but this study is the first to thoroughly examine the climbing and basking behavior.
Dinets also was coauthor of a widely reported study last year that demonstrated crocodiles used sticks and twigs to hunt, balancing nest-building material on their snouts just above the water line to lure birds.
That was the first reported use of tools by any reptile and the first known case of predators timing the use of lures to a seasonal behavior in their prey, a University of Tennessee press release said.
The latest climbing study suggests paleontologists studying extinct species should be cautious about drawing conclusions from fossils, Dinets added.
“If crocodiles were extinct and you only knew them from fossils, you wouldn’t be able to guess they climb trees because they don’t have any physical adaptations,” Dinets said.
Assumptions based on fossils, he said, can be “far less correct than people think.”
HOUSES FLOODED: The ground shook in Tonga as explosions were heard, followed by gushing water and pelting rocks, sending people running to higher ground A massive volcanic eruption in Tonga that triggered tsunami waves around the Pacific caused “significant damage” to the island nation’s capital and smothered it in dust, but the full extent was not apparent with communications still cut off yesterday. The eruption on Saturday was so powerful that it was recorded around the world, triggering a tsunami that flooded Pacific coastlines from Japan to the US. Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, suffered “significant” damage, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, adding that there had been no reports of injury or death, but a full assessment was not possible with communication lines down. “The tsunami has
‘ZERO’ STRATEGY: Carrie Lam said the airline faced a probe over its compliance with the rules after an outbreak was traced to air crew who breached quarantine Cathay Pacific is being investigated and faces possible legal action over an outbreak of COVID-19 in Hong Kong that began with the airline’s employees, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) said yesterday. The revelation came as Lam announced the suspension of all kindergarten and primary schools until after the Lunar New Year early next month. Like China, Hong Kong maintains a “zero COVID” strategy that has largely cut the international finance hub off from the mainland and the rest of the world for the past two years. A recent outbreak traced to Cathay Pacific air crew who breached home quarantine has sparked
PORT CONGESTION: Ships heading for Omicron-affected Dalian and Tianjin are being redirected to Shanghai, which does not have the capacity for the sudden cargo influx China has detected the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 in a second major port city, deepening concern that the vastly more infectious variant could spread quickly across the world’s largest trading nation, upending global supply chains. Chinese officials said yesterday that at least one person has Omicron in Dalian, a city of 7 million. A second person also tested positive for the virus, but the variant is unknown. Both are college students who returned home for the Lunar New Year holiday from Tianjin, where at least 137 other cases were traced as of Wednesday. Dalian joins Tianjin as the second crucial port city
Japan extended measures barring almost all new foreign arrivals until the end of next month and is to reopen mass vaccination centers as it battles an surge of COVID-19 cases, the government said yesterday. “We will keep the current border control policy until the end of February while taking necessary measures from a humanitarian viewpoint and considering the national interest,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters. Local media said that there would be some new exemptions for members of Japanese families as well as students studying in Japan, but there were no immediate details from officials. The government is also to reopen