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The lion may be king of the beasts on land


The entire subject of aquatic predation should embarrass the mammal chauvinist into silence. (Realistic dinosaur)The lion may be king of the beasts on land, the top link in the terrestrial food chain. But in the Nile waters and in the great Rift Valley lakes of East Africa, the lion must fear for its crown. Here the king is the Nile crocodile. Contrary to the popular view, crocodiles are neither sluggish, nor stupid, nor lacking in maternal affection. (animatronic dinosaur costume)Crocodile mothers guard their nest with aggressive vigilance for the three-month incubation necessary for hatching. When the hatchlings chirp as they struggle to wrest free of the shell, the mother will gently help her newborn, lifting them in her jaws from nest to water's edge. (animatronic dinosaur)For months after hatching, the young crocodiles stay close to mother in the shallows, where she can drive away any potential threat. Field zoologists in Georgia and Florida tell the same story of maternal care of our Mississippi alligator. (Alligators and crocodilians differ in shape only in minor features, the broader, flatter snout of the 'gator being the most obvious; the term "crocodilian" encompasses all 'gators and crocodiles and their fish-eating kin, the frying-panheaded gavial.)

The Harvard professor's close call with the South Sea crocodile is a warning that even the numero uno on nature's scale must be careful around crocodilians. Crocodiles are good hunters. An adult male will stick to one hunting territory for years, learning all the ins and outs of the watery passages among the reeds, gradually developing an ambush style calculated on the seasonal flux of fish, snails, turtles, and land mammals that come to the water's edge to drink. (real dinosaur costume)Adult crocodilians watch the shoreline, their heads submerged except for the bulging eyes and nostrils. If an antelope ventures close enough, the croc glides smoothly through the water, propelled by its deep, sculling tail. Five or six feet from the antelope may be close enough, then a quick lunge and the great reptilian jaws clamp shut on furry snout or leg. The thrashing victim is dragged under the water and stunned as the croc whirls around, rolling over and over.

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