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False Gharial

I saw one of these interesting crocodilians at a zoo while I was on vacation last month, and its odd appearance blew me (and my family members who I went with) completely away. Tomistoma schlegelii is known as the "False" Gharial because it shares a similar snout to the "True" Gharials, but other morphological features place it within the family Crocodylidae. However, recent studies are showing that it might just be closely related to the True Gharials after all, and now the classification is a tad bit up in the air.

False Gharials are huge.. though not as huge as the other Gharials. They do however, regularly reach lengths of over 4 meters. Their snout is one of their most interesting features, because while the rest of their body is long and wide, their snout it quite thin. They live in Malaysia and Indonesia, and like all crocodilians, most of their time is spent in the water. Not a whole lot is known about their behavior. It is suspected that females build mound-nests to lay their eggs upon, but that the hatchlings receive no parental assistance.

False Gharials are considered to be harmless toward humans. The largest animals they are known to prey on are monkeys and small deer, though overall fish and crustaceans comprise a large portion of their diet. The slender snout that they possess helps them to capture these creatures, as it provides less water resistance when thrashing back and forth, and also allows them to probe into dens and burrows. Prey is swallowed whole.

False Gharials are an endangered species due to habitat loss, fishing, and the skin trade. Their are specimens in captivity (such as the one I got to see) but the total number of the wild population is probably around 2,500 adults, and they are very fragmented.

Comments

  1. False Gharials have killed and eaten men, have much more robust jaws than Indian Gharials, and routinely feed on deer (though they prefer large fish, like all other crocodilians)

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