Saturday, November 21, 2009

When Crocs Ate Dinosaurs

Some people get quite upset over the notion that dinosaurs might have been eaten by "crocs" (or more accurately, crocodyliforms - extinct ancestors of modern crocodiles) but it's true, they certainly were. In fact, the crocodyliform group was arguably as diverse and successful as the dinosaurs were in their day. You might even argue that modern crocs have lost out big time compared with those modern dinosaurs, the birds, but in fact they've simply consolidated what they're good at into 23 very successful species... even though some are doing better than others. Although modern crocodylians are doing a lot of things right, they're not as diverse as they once were. If you're not convinced you should check out National Geographic's new show called, provocatively enough, When Crocs Ate Dinosaurs. It premiere's tonight, but you can find the full listings for when it's on in your area at National Geographic's website (in the US, it's on Saturday 21 November at 9pm EST).

While I'm not entirely sure that the names will go down in historical infamy, Paul Sereno will introduce you such marvellous creatures as Dog Croc, Boar Croc (pictured) and even Pancake Croc. That's right, Pancake Croc. While I doubt Paul is suggesting that it dined with the assistance of maple syrup, it certainly had a very bizarre skull. We hosted Paul here in Darwin, and introduced him to some remarkable things that modern crocs can do. Watch the show and be awed by what has gone before, and what we still have.


reptilist said...

Thanks for the heads up on this program!


dlal said...

Happy New Year to everyone! I finally managed to catch the program on Nat Geo Wild. Great show Adam. It's great to see Paul continues to study and discover the crocs from the past. The stand out of the jurassic crocs for me was Boar Croc! It so looks like our Saltwater friends today! Only more agile on land and looks deadlier! Amazing. Can I ask though, is the new laws concerning saltwater crocs in the Northern Territory enforced now? Even though it was sad to see the Saltwater croc euhanised for being captured in Darwin harbour. When you guys did the autopsy, did you guys do any toxicity tests on the blood samples etc? It would be interesting to see how the river pollutants are affecting our crocs up there.

Adam Britton said...

Glad you enjoyed it dlal, although I still haven't seen it myself yet. Trying to get NatGeo to send contributors a copy of the show is a real challenge!

You're talking about the new management plan for crocodiles here? Yes, that's now in effect although it's really no different to previous management plans. They have all the same power to manage crocs that they've always had. Crocs have been removed from the harbour for nearly 30 years, generally around 200 a year. While it's not good for the individual crocodile, it really is a non-detrimental strategy overall because these crocs are effectively "on the run" anyway, they're "outcasts". If it helps for the public to see that something positive is being done for their safety, it buys a huge amount of tolerance towards crocodiles. It's a necessary bit of give and take.

We didn't do any blood tests, no. That research has been done elsewhere, so it wasn't really a question we needed the answer to (the result: very low toxicity up here, as pollution is extremely low).

dlal said...

Ah, that's great news about the low pollution. Hopefully it stays that way for a long time. Cheers.

P.S I can send you a copy of the show. I recorded it onto DVD from foxtel. Let me know.

Adam Britton said...

Thanks for sending the DVD dlal, now all we need is a bit of time in our crazy schedule to watch it! I'll let you know what we think of it.