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Crocodiles and alligators are the largest living reptiles and form

the last surviving direct link with the Age of Dinosaurs. Although
greatly feared, crocodilians are shy creatures and good parents.
The first true crocodilians, which
have been found in South Amer-
ican and European fossil beds,
date from just over 200 million
years ago. But crocodilelike rep-
tiles occurred 230 million years
ago. The earliest ancestors of
crocodilians are the thecodonts,
primitive reptiles from over 245
million years ago that were also
the ancestors of dinosaurs and
modern birds.
Some thecodonts had ankle
joints that allowed two different
gaits. The animal could waddle
with its belly on the ground and
its legs splayed to its sides like a
lizard, or it could adopt a "high
walk" like a mammal's, with its
belly off the ground and its legs
striding almost under its body.
Modern crocodilians have a sim-
ilar ankle structure. They waddle
short distances but use a "high
walk" for long distances.
Early crocodilians were about
three feet long, with fairly long
legs. They may have lived exclu-
Above: Morelet's crocodile of Cen-
tral America live$ in freshwater la-
goons and swamps.
sively on land. But by 190 mil-
lion years ago many were living
in the sea. Some possessed long,
narrow jaws with sharp teeth for
catching fish. Their limbs began
to develop paddlelike feet, and
some had dorsal fins. About 130
million years ago these sea croc-
odiles became extinct.
When the dinosaurs died out
65 million years ago, the croco-
dilians survived. This may have
been because they lived mainly
in fresh water. Other freshwater
animals also fared better than
sea or land creatures.
Modern crocodilians are di-
vided into two main subfamilies:
crocodiles and alligators, which
together contain 21 species. A
third subfamily, the gavialines,
consists of one species, the ga-
vial. This large, slender-snouted
crocodilian lives in northern In-
dia's deep, fast-flowing rivers.
left: The Indian gavial has weak
legs since it spends most of its time
in the water.
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The crocodilians include 22 species of crocodile, alligator,
and gavial. The smallest are the dwarf caimans of South
America, which reach five feet in length. The largest of all
reptiles is the great estuarine crocodile, which grows to a
length of over 23 feet and a weight of more than a ton.
The 14 true crocodile species
are found mostly in tropical re-
gions. The most fearsome is the
estuarine crocodile, which lives
in brackish estuaries and coastal
regions from the Indian Ocean
to the Pacific. The only crocodil-
ian that can survive in the open
ocean, it has reached small is-
lands up to 620 miles from the
mainland. It attacks and eats hu-
mans and may kill about 1,000
people every year.
Another true crocodile is the
American crocodile, an endan-
gered species in Florida. The Cu-
ban crocodile lives exclusively in
Cuban swamps. Morelet's croc-
Front cover:
The young of
alligator rest
on top of their
mother's head,
where they are
protected from
Front inset
left: The gavi-
al catches fish
by sweeping its
jaws sideways.
Its sharp teeth
help it grasp
Front inset
right: The
rare Cuban
crocodile is
found only in
two swamps
in Cuba.
odile, which is similar in size to
the Cuban at under 12 feet, in-
habits parts of Mexico and Cen-
tral America. Some other species
include the Philippines' Siamese
crocodile, the New Guinea croc-
odile, and the Indian subconti-
nent's mugger, which may prey
on deer and small buffalo.
Some crocodiles have narrow
snouts, feeding on fish and oth-
er small prey such as frogs and
birds. These include the African
slender-snouted crocodile from
the Congo Basin, the Australian
crocodile in northern Australia,
and the false gavial of the Malay
Peninsula and Indonesia.
Crocodilians mate in the water.
Both sexes are polygamous, tak-
ing several partners each breed-
ing season. The female builds
her nest in the two months or
so before she lays her eggs. It is
usually a mound of earth and
vegetation or a hole dug in the
ground. Warmth is vital to the
embryos' survival in the eggs, so
all crocodilians create nest con-
ditions that generate a tempera-
ture close to 86F. They may do
this by splashing water onto rot-
ting vegetable matter to boost
the heat generation. Schneider's
Left: After about two months of
incubation, the young crocodile is
ready to hatch from the egg.
Left: Crocodiles
and alligators
differ mainly in
the structure of
their heads and
jawbones and
the position of
their teeth.
dwarf caiman lays its eggs in the
base of a termite mound.
After burying her clutch of up
to 100 hard-shelled eggs, the fe-
male guards the nest from pred-
ators. After two or three months,
the baby crocodiles in the eggs
utter squeaks, telling the moth-
er that they are ready to hatch.
She digs them up, picks up the
hatchlings in her jaws, and car-
ries them to a quiet pool, where
she releases them. She also care-
fully opens any unhatched eggs.
The young may stay close to her
for several weeks.
Right: After tossing her young in the
air, the female Nile crocodile carries
them safely in her mouth.
When Spanish explorers discov-
ered crocodilians in the south-
eastern United States, they gave
the animal the name ellagarto,
meaning "the lizard." This even-
tually evolved into alligator.
The seven alligator species are
the Chinese alligator, American
alligator, common caiman, black
caiman, broad-snouted caiman,
Schneider's dwarf caiman, and
Cuvier's dwarf caiman. All live in
the Americas-xcept the Chi-
nese alligator. This small species,
under six and a half feet long,
inhabits lakes and marshes near
China's lower Yangtze River.
The American alligator is the
only North American species. It
inhabits a broad, coastal plain
from the southern part of Virgin-
ia to the Rio Grande, which di-
vides Texas from Mexico. This
alligator is widespread in the
Left: Dwarf caimans are among
the large numbers of caimans that
are illegally caught for their skins.
Mississippi River's drainage ba-
sin. Although humans have de-
stroyed much of its habitat, its
population has grown in some
areas with the construction of
canal systems as well as water-
ing holes for cattle.
The five caiman species live in
South America's Amazon basin.
The common caiman favors riv-
ers and is often seen along their
banks. The black caiman prefers
flooded forests around lakes and
slow-moving rivers. The broad-
snouted caiman inhabits shal-
low swamplands along South
America's eastern coast, but it
is also found in the river basins
of Brazil and Argentina. Cuvier's
dwarf caiman spends most of its
time on land, favoring flooded
forests and trees flanking small
savanna streams. Schneider's
dwarf caiman prefers relatively
small streams in the rainforest,
where adults find shelter in nat-
ural dens such as hollow logs.
Insectivores are found in a variety of habitats from deserts to cold
mountain streams. Most of these small mammals have mobile,
pointed snouts and small, sharp teeth for catching insects.
Fossils show that the earliest pla-
cental mammals were similar to
today's insectivores. They were
shrewlike creatures with teeth
that could crunch hard-cased
insects. They probably foraged
at night on the forest floor or in
bushes and trees.
Most modern insectivores re-
tain primitive features. The ani-
mal usually has a flat brain case
and a long, often mobile snout.
The brain itself is fairly smooth
compared with the ridged brain
of a more advanced mammal.
All insectivores walk on the
flats of their feet so their heels
touch the ground. Many lack
separate external openings for
the anus and genitals. Instead,
a passage called a cloaca serves
the genital and urinary systems.
To find food, insectivores use
Below: There are at least 27 species
of tenrec, some of which look very
much like hedgehogs.
The Hottentot golden mole
excavates tunnel systems up
to 800 feet long.
A newborn hedgehog has
skin over its spines to ease its
smell and their sensitive whis-
kers. Their ears and eyes are of-
ten less developed than in most
mammals. External earflaps are
usually small and are missing in
some burrowers. A mole or a
golden mole has a fur covering
over its eyes and can draw this
back to see. It may just distin-
guish bright and dim light.
Many insectivores' teeth are
specialized, particularly the in-
cisors. They have small canines
and primitive molars. The cusps
are arranged in a triangular pat-
tern for slicing and crushing.
birth. After fluid in t he skin is ab-
sorbed into the body, the skin
contracts and the spines appear.
The African forest shrew is 17
times heavier than the pygmy
Left: A golden
mole possesses
a blunt, stream-
lined body and
burrows pow-
erfully with its
forelimbs. Inver-
tebrates are its
main prey.
Above: The starnosed mole has
sensitive protrusions on its nose to
help it locate its prey.
Below: Young hedgehogs live to-
gethe" but they become very terri-
torial after their first year.
white-toothed shrew, which
weighs only one-tenth ounce.
Hedgehogs are immune to
natural toxins like arsenic and
cantharidin in their prey.
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Insectivores form a primitive mammalian order., retaining
several features of the first placental mammals. This order
includes a variety of moles, shrews, and hedgehogs. The
world's smallest mamma" the pygmy white-toothed shrew,
is an insectivore. There are also aquatic insectivores, such
as the aquatic tenrec and the giant otter shrew, which is
described in African folktales as half-fish and half-mammal.
Hedgehogs are found in Africa
and across Europe and Asia to
the northern tree line. Their fam-
ily also includes Southeast Asia's
and China's moonrats, which
some zoologists believe to be
spineless hedgehogs.
A hedgehog's spines evolved
from hairs, and each is erected
by its own muscles. Because of
its loose skin, the animal can roll
into a tight ball if threatened.
Hedgehogs have a varied diet.
Their teeth can scoop up small
invertebrates, impale larger prey,
and slice and crush tough mate-
rial. Desert hedgehogs eat small
rodents in the absence of other
prey. They, as well as long-eared
hedgehogs, dig short burrows.
Hedgehogs hibernate when
the climate is cold and food is
scarce. They can live on little or
no food when dormant.
The five moonrat species in-
clude the shrew hedgehog. All
moonrat species have long, mo-
bile snouts. The greater moon-
rat and shrew hedgehog have
long, thin, ratlike tails. The great-
er moonrat forages in watery
areas for shellfish and small fish.
European hedgehog:
Prefers worms but
also eats beetles,
caterpi ll ars, slugs,
birds' eggs, and car-
rion. When food is
pl ent iful in winter,
it does not hiber-
nate, despite
the cold.
Giant otter shrew: Swims underwater with a side-to-
side motion, using its muscular tail as a rudder. It
searches for insects and cru staceans wi th its long,
sensiti ve whi skers and keen nose.
Among the golden moles of sub- largest insectivores, weighing up
Saharan Africa are Stuhlmann's to three pounds. The closely re-
golden mole, which burrows in- lated hedgehog tenrecs have a
to swamp moss in mountainous much spinier appearance. They
habitats, and the giant golden resemble true hedgehogs and
mole, which may be nearly nine can curl into a ball when threat-
inches long. A golden mole has a ened. The rice tenrec resembles
sleek, rounded body with gleam- a mole, with similar velvety fur
ing fur lying toward the rump, and small eyes and ears. The
unlike a true mole's velvety fur. long-tailed tenrec and the otter
Golden moles dig with their shrews of Central and West Af-
shoulders, forefeet, claws, and
padded noses. Desert species
burrow just below the sand and
may drag lizards down from the
surface to eat. Golden moles eat
mostly earthworms, snails, crick-
ets, and other invertebrates.
Tenrecs are native to Madagas-
car, although a few have been
introduced onto other Indian
Ocean islands. They all have fair-
ly small brains and low, variable
body temperatures but vary in
form. The common tenrec has
short, sturdy legs and a tailless
body that is covered in coarse
hair and spines. It is one of the
Front cover: The pygmy shrew is
found in all of Europe except the
Mediterranean region.
Front inset left: A solenodon sniffs
out invertebrates in the humid soil
of tropical forests.
Front inset right: Although a mole
has poor eyesight, it has an excel-
lent sense of smell.
rica have the strong tails and
short muzzles of true otters.
The two solenodon species
of Cuba and Hispaniola are rare,
due to competition with rodents
and plundering by flesh eaters
introduced onto these islands.
A solenodon looks a bit like the
common tenrec, but its long,
mobile snout overshoots its low-
er jaw. In the Hispaniola species,
a socket joint attaches the snout
to the skull, increasing its flexi-
bility. A solenodon uses its long,
sharp foreclaws to dig up prey
such as insect larvae. It can para-
lyze a victim with its toxic saliva.
European mole: Has an especially
sensitive snout and sensory whis-
kers to detect prey that falls into its
tunnel s. Its short tai l also has sen-
sory hairs.
Burrowing moles have dense,
short, velvety fur that offers no
resistance to the soil and stays
fairly clean. They have tiny eyes,
and those of the Mediterranean
mole are covered by skin. Moles
are built for digging, with strong
claws, paddlelike forelimbs, and
powerful shoulder muscles.
The largest mole family mem-
~ S H R E W S
The 246 shrew species comprise
the largest family of insectivores.
They live everywhere except the
poles, most of southern South
America, Australasia, and the
major African deserts.
A typical shrew is small and
shy, with a pointed snout and
sensory whiskers. It resembles
a mouse but lacks constantly
growing incisor teeth.
Because a shrew is so tiny, it
loses heat rapidly and must eat
several times its body weight
every day. The American south-
ber is the Russian desman. The
Pyrenean desman is found in
mountain streams. A desman
has waterproof underfur with
shiny guard hairs, a long, pad-
dlelike tail, and webbed hind
feet. It uses its tubular snout as
a snorkel. It eats insect larvae,
shrimps, and snails. The Russian
desman also eats fish and frogs .
west's desert shrew can release
energy slowly if food is scarce.
The various American, Euro-
pean, and Asian water shrews
are aquatic. The Tibetan species
has webbed feet, but the others
have fringes of stiff hairs on their
feet and tails to help them swim
or rush across the water surface.
Some shrews have poisonous
bites. The American short-tailed
shrew kills frogs with its venom.
Many shrews exude bad-tasting
substances from skin glands to
dL . ~ r predators.
Common European shrew: Digs tun-
nel s but ranges far beyond these fo r
food . This solitary, aggressive animal
fiercely defends its chosen terri tory.
.'-:=======================- GROUP 8: ANIMAL BEHAVIOR
Waterfowl include swans, geese, and ducks. Since most species spend
much of their life on water, they have webbed feet and dense,
waterproof plumage with thiele, insulating down underneath.
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The waterfowl family, Anatidae,
contains 152 swan, goose, and
duck species. Most of the seven
swan species are very large, pri-
marily white birds. The largest
is the trumpeter swan, which
weighs up to 35 pounds and
has a wingspan of over six feet.
The 15 true goose species are
I found only within the Northern
Hemisphere. Unlike swans, they
have long legs set near the mid-
dle of their bodies and can walk
and run well.
The perching geese and ducks
occur mainly in the tropics and
subtropics, as do the eight spe-
cies of whistling-duck. The 17
species of shelduck and sheld-
goose, especially the Cape Bar-
ren goose of Australia, may form
a link between geese and ducks.
The six species of merganser
have long, slender, hooked bills,
which they use to seize fish un-
derwater. The bills' toothlike ser-
rations point backward to hold
slippery prey.
The pochards occur mainly on
fresh water worldwide. Most ob-
tain food by diving and spend
little time on land.
The fastest-flying bird in lev-
el flight is the eider duck. It
has been timed by radar fly-
ing at 47 miles per hour.
Some of the highest-flying
birds are waterfowl. The bar-
headed goose migrates across
the Himalayas at altitudes of
almost 30,000 feet. In 1967
a flock of about 30 whooper
The largest waterfowl group
is the dabbling ducks, with 40
species. Found worldwide, they
include mallards, pintails, teals,
wigeons, and northern shovel-
ers. A dabbling duck usually has
an iridescent patch of feathers,
called the speculum, on each of
its wings. In the Northern Hemi-
sphere, most males have bright
breeding plumage, which is re-
placed by a dull "eclipse" plum-
age, like that of females, during
swans was spotted from an air-
plane at an altitude of just over
27,000 feet. The birds used the
winds of the jet stream to travel
at a ground speed of about 85
miles per hour.
A few duck species are special-
ly adapted for life in fast-flowing
waters. The torrent duck, for
example, lives in the turbulent
Left: The mag-
pie goose is in a
subfamily of its
own because it
differs so much
from other wa-
terfowl. This
ungainly look-
ing bird has
long legs with
only slightly
webbed, long-
toed feet. The
magpie goose
does not molt
all of its flight
feathers at the
same time, so
it does not un-
dergo a flight-
less period.
the birds' flightless period after
the breeding season. In contrast,
Southern Hemisphere males are
relatively dull all year.
Using its bill, a dabbling duck
reaches into the water for plant
matter and invertebrates. It does
this from the surface or by up-
ending its body underwater, so
its tail sticks up in the air. A dab-
bling duck is an impressive flier
and can take off almost vertical-
ly from the water or land.
streams of the Andes in South
America. It has a streamlined
body, sharp claws for gripping
slippery rocks, and a long, stiff
tail, which it uses to steer in the
fast-moving water.
A swan's neck has 25 verte-
brae-more than any other
bird's neck and 18 more than
a giraffe's neck.
0160200941 PACKET 94
Many people have seen mallards dabbling industriously
for food in a pond in the suburbs or even a city park.
Others may have caught sight of a mute swan beating its
wings slowly and majestically as it flies overhead. In the
fall and spring the honks of flocks of Canada geese are
a common sound. The familiarity of these and other
water birds reflects their mastery of both air and water.

The first duck fossil is from the
Oligocene period, 30 million
years ago. Waterfowl may have
a common ancestry with game
birds, such as pheasants. But in
1979 a fossil bird called Presby-
ornis was discovered with fea-
tures in between those of ducks
and waders. Dating back over
50 million years to the Eocene
period, this fossil suggests that
waterfowl may be more closely
related to waders, with which
they are often grouped.
Front cover: The black swan occa-
sionally forms huge flocks.
Front insets: The Baikal teal (left)
and Egyptian goose (right) both
feed on plant matter.

Many waterfowl species have
dramatic courtship displays. A
male duck, in particular, often
shows his bright or elongated
feathers to attract a mate.
Swans, geese, and most ducks
nest on the ground. Some build
loose platforms from vegetation,
while others make scrapes.
The female usually builds the
nest and incubates the eggs. She
often lines the nest with warm,
soft down that she plucks from
her breast. If she leaves the eggs
Red-breasted merganser: Often
swims with its head submerged
when searching for food. It has a
saw-toothed bill for gripping fish.
The drake (male) has a long, spiky
crest during the season.
Drainage of wetlands, pollution,
lead poisoning, and overhunt-
ing take their toll on waterfowl.
For thousands of years, people
have used waterfowl as a source
of meat, eggs, or feathers. Many
species are still hunted for food
and sport. People still harvest
eider ducks' warm, soft down
feathers to stuff comforters.
to feed, she covers them with
the down to keep them warm
and hide them from predators.
Her camouflaged plumage and
habit of staying mostly on the
nest help reduce the number of
eggs taken by predators.
Many birds live in captivity in
parks, zoos, and private collec-
tions. Their wings are clipped to
stop them from flying away.
Some species have long been
domesticated-including the
greylag goose, the ancestor of
most domestic geese, and the
mallard, the ancestor of most
domestic ducks.
Some species lay only two or
three eggs. But many, such as
the mallard and shovelers, may
lay more than 10 eggs, which
take about four weeks to hatch.
Many waterfowl species in-
crease their chances of raising
young by nesting on small is-
lands or other sites out of reach
A waterfowl species' diet can of-
ten be inferred from the shape
of its bill. The most common bill
is broad and vertically flattened,
ending in a horny "nail" that is
used to hook or dislodge food.
Since the bird often strains food
particles from water, it has lamel-
lae, or toothlike ridges, along the
sides of its bill's mandibles.
Waterfowl eggs are generally
white or a pastel color, without
the elaborate markings of many
ground-nesting birds' eggs. Be-
cause waterfowl eggs are usual-
ly large and numerous, patterns
are of little value as camouflage.
of most mammalian
The downy young can run or
swim as soon as they dry off af-
ter hatching. Their parents usu-
ally lead them to the water.
Waterfowl live on lakes, rivers,
marshes, and other inland wet-
lands, as well as in estuaries and
coastal waters. Almost all have
strongly webbed feet for swim-
ming and diving. The big webs
completely join the front three
toes, while the hind toe is small
and at a higher level.
Another aquatic adaptation is
a broad, boat-shaped body with
a flattened underside. The bird
also possesses dense, waterproof
plumage, with an underlayer of
thick, warm down.
Many species have long necks
to reach underwater for food.
They frequently have short legs
that are set back on their bodies,
making them good swimmers
but giving them a slow, ungainly
walk on land. In contrast, geese,
shelducks, and sheldgeese have
legs nearer the middle of their
bodies, so they are able to stand
upright and walk more easily.
Northern shov-
eler: Draws
water through
the front of its
bill. As it pumps
water out of the
side, it sifts out
Mergansers have narrow bills
with sharp, toothlike serrations
for seizing fish underwater. Oth-
er diving ducks possess strong,
broad bills for prying mollusks
from rocks and crushing their
shells. Geese have short, blunt
bills for grazing plants. Their
thick tongues have spiny teeth
along the edges to seize food.
swan: Found in
southern South
America. Prefers
lakes and marshes,
feeding mainly on
aquatic plants as
well as fish spawn
and insects. The
grayish juvenile
does not gain its
adult plumage un-
til its second year.