Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Salt water Crocodile
Originally uploaded by Pandiyan.

Do you know that crocodiles have a super immune system that very rarely they catch a disease?

Though crocs breathe like land animals and not like fish, they can remain under water for hours. They bring down their metabolic rate so much that their oxygen requirement is minimal. The picture shows the tongue which folds back to cover the throat.

Crocs use their teeth more to hold their prey as they swallow food whole. Their jaws are very powerful exerting incredible amount of power as they close. However, curiously, the muscles controlling the jaws to open are so weak that held tight by a human they can't open the jaws.

Looks like a Gharial but is it one....

Looks like a Gharial but is it one....
Originally uploaded by Pandiyan.

It has a long, narrow snout like a Gharial but is actually a crocodile. It is called a False Gharial.

Put on the endangered list, found in isolated wild habitats of Indonesia and Malaysia. Said to have disappeared from Vietnam and Thailand. However, it is being bred in many captive sites.

One of the most unusual and little known of all crocodilians. Very little is properly studied about this crocodile. In fact, opinion is divided on whether it should be a crocodile or a gharial.

Scientific name: Tomistoma schlegelii

The name is a tribute to the Dutch zoologist H. Schlegel who credited with its discovery.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Star Spangled Backshell

Star Spangled Backshell
Originally uploaded by Pandiyan.

Star Tortoise common in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka .....

They have these special radiating starlike patterns on their shell (carapace) Each star is centred on a pyramidal bump. They are herbivorous which eat grass, flowers and fruits but known to eat insects and carrion at times.

As with any attractive animal, faces danger due to man-made threats - commercial trade in pet markets which coupled with habitat loss signals a difficult future.

Though trade has been made illegal in India, many far east and middle east countries, enforcement is low and the trade thrives due to attractive market. On and off one reads newspaper reports of people caught in airports with suitcases full of star tortoises!

Scientific name: Geochelone elegans