Thursday, January 5, 2017

Crocs, Revisited

On Monday, I visited the American Museum of Natural History to see two of their temporary exhibits on their last day. The second of the exhibits I saw (the first being Dinosaurs Among Us) was Crocs: Ancient Predators in a Modern World, which I had attended a month and a half ago. I spent more time at the exhibit this visit, and will cover some topics I glossed over in my last post.

One of the highlights of the exhibit was the overview of the bewildering array of fossil crocodilians, featuring a colored-in version of Darren Naish's crocodylomorphs illustration, featuring a host of extinct crocodilians of various types:

Hoplosuchus kayi was a seven-inch long crocodilian with relatively long limbs from the Upper Jurassic. It most likely ate insects and other small vertebrates. Simosuchus clarki was a small, probably-herbivorous crocodilian from Late Cretaceous Madagascar. Sarcosuchus was a huge croc, attaining lengths up to forty feet, which lived in Cretaceous Era Africa and South America. The alligator-like Deinosuchus, which haunted the waterways of Cretaceous North America, attained lengths of about thirty-five feet, and there is evidence that it even fed on such formidable prey as tyranosaurs such as Appalachiosaurus. Thecachampsa antigua was relatively recent, living from the Oligocene to the Middle Pleistocene in present day Florida- it's closest living relative is the false gharial. Steneosaurus was a Jurassic Era marine crocodilian, as was Metriorhynchus. Kaprosuchus was a 'boar-tusked' terrestrial crocodilian from Cretaceous Era Africa, and Anatosuchus was a 'duck-billed' crocodilian, also from Cretaceous Era Africa.

Another section of the exhibit dealt with crocodilian biology, detailing nesting behavior and parental care, the crocodilian immune system, croc vocalizations (crocs are the closest living relatives of birds, like them they use sound to communicate a wide array of behaviors), bite strength, and cognition (crocodilians have been observed using tools).

The highlight of the exhibit were the live crocodilians, four species worth- including adorable baby American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis), African Slender-snouted Crocodiles (Mecistops cataphractus), African Dwarf Crocodiles (Osteolaemus tetraspis), and the critically endangered Siamese Crocodiles (Crocodylus siamensis). One highlight of the visit was seeing one of the young Siamese crocodiles clambering from the water to a high-and-dry spot... a bunch of us joked that we had caught the beast at its best, and it would be a couple of hours before it moved again. A centerpiece of the exhibit was the mounted carcass of Gomek, a saltwater crocodile which attained a length of 17 feet 9 inches and a weight of almost a ton.

Once again, my preference is to visit these exhibits multiple times in order to catch everything. This particular exhibit is a traveling production... if it comes to a venue near you, please check it out, it's gorgeous.


bowtiejack said...

Good stuff. Thanks.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

It's my pleasure, I love this stuff.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

They had a good run, didn't they? Still plenty of them on the southern golf courses.