South African hippos attack crocodile


This video from Kruger National Park in South Africa says about itself:

30+ Hippos Attack One Crocodile

24 October 2017

Watch this Clash of the Titans take place between the masters of the waters, as these hippos refuse to allow this crocodile into their territory and quickly make sure they remove him from their space.

Harish Kumar (71), a retired sonographer recalled this battled and told Latestsightings.com how it all came about: “We were traveling in a Dutch group of about 18 people. It was a gorgeous day and we only had 2 days of holiday left. Our guide took us out on a drive to the Hippo Pool.

We were all just strolling around everywhere when suddenly my wife called me to tell me that something was going on there in the pool. I ran to get there and immediately started filming immediately – there wasn’t even time to get the tripod set up. Luck was absolutely on my side as I was able to stand with my camera in the right place to film. This was just an unbelievable sighting. The crocodile has somehow managed to maneuver himself into the middle of a pod of angry hippos. These guys wanted him out of their territory immediately. The croc was completely outnumbered and found himself being thrown around and bitten by the hippos. Luckily he managed to get away unharmed. This was a right time right place encounter.”

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‘Crocodiles, not Stone Age humans, killed animals’


This video says about itself:

10 November 2009

Paul Sereno and his team of scientists and artists show us what the world looked like in an age when crocs ate dinosaurs.

By Bruce Bower, 3:16pm, November 6, 2017:

Crocs take a bite out of claims of ancient stone-tool use

Scars left on bones could have come from hungry reptiles instead of Stone Age butchery, researchers say

Recent reports of African and North American animal fossils bearing stone-tool marks from being butchered a remarkably long time ago may be a crock. Make that a croc.

Crocodile bites damage animal bones in virtually the same ways that stone tools do, say paleoanthropologist Yonatan Sahle of the University of Tübingen in Germany and his colleagues. Animal bones allegedly cut up for meat around 3.4 million years ago in East Africa (SN: 9/11/10, p. 8) and around 130,000 years ago in what’s now California (SN: 5/27/17, p. 7) come from lakeside and coastal areas. Those are places where crocodiles could have wreaked damage now mistaken for butchery, the scientists report online the week of November 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Larger samples of animal fossils, including complete bones from various parts of the body, are needed to begin to tease apart the types of damage caused by stone tools, crocodile bites and trampling of bones by living animals, Sahle’s team concludes. “More experimental work on bone damage caused by big, hungry crocs is also critical,” says coauthor Tim White, a paleoanthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley.

In a field where researchers reap big rewards for publishing media-grabbing results in high-profile journals, such evidence could rein in temptations to over-interpret results, says archaeologist David Braun of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., who did not participate in the new study or the two earlier ones. “There’s a push to publish extraordinary findings, but evolutionary researchers always have to weigh what’s interesting versus what’s correct.”

Authors of the ancient butchery papers agree that bone marks made by crocodiles deserve closer study and careful comparison with proposed stone-tool marks. But the researchers stand their ground on their original conclusions.

Microscopic investigations in the 1980s led some researchers to conclude that carnivores such as hyenas leave U-shaped marks on bones. In contrast, they argued, stone tools leave V-shaped incisions with internal ridges. And hammering stones create signature pits and striations.

Sahle’s group expanded on research previously conducted by paleoanthropologist Jackson Njau of Indiana University Bloomington. In his 2006 doctoral dissertation, Njau reported that bone damage produced by feeding crocodiles looks much like stone-tool incisions and pits, with a few distinctive twists such as deep scratches. Njau retrieved and studied cow and goat bones from carcasses that had been eaten by crocodiles housed at two animal farms in Tanzania.

In the new study, the scientists used Njau’s findings to reassess marks on fossils previously excavated in Ethiopia and dating to around 4.2 million, 3.4 million and 2.5 million years ago. Damage to these fossils has generally been attributed to butchery with stone tools.

Incisions and pits on arm bones from an ancient hominid, Australopithecus anamensis, and similar marks on a horse’s leg bone likely resulted from crocodile bites and not stone-tool use, as initially suspected, the investigators say. If stone tools had indeed damaged the A. anamensis remains, that would raise the possibility of cannibalism — a difficult behavior to confirm with fossils. Tellingly, Sahle’s team argues, these bones come from what were once waterside areas. Some were found in the same sediment layer as crocodile remains. Marks on these bones include deep scratches consistent with crocodile bites.

The horse fossil comes from a spot along an ancient lakeshore where no stone tools have been found, a further clue in favor of damage from croc bites.

Jagged pits, incisions and other marks scar a leg fragment and lower jaw from an ancient hoofed animal. But microscopic analyses could not definitively attribute the damage to stone tools or crocodile bites.

In light of these findings, the ancient California and 3.4-million-year-old East Africa bones should also be reexamined with the possibility of croc damage in mind, White says. For now, the earliest confirmed stone-tool marks occur on animal bones from two East African sites dating to around 2.5 million years ago (SN: 4/17/04, p. 254), he adds.

The range of crocodile marks described in the new study doesn’t look “especially like” damage to the 130,000-year-old mastodon bones on California’s coast, says paleontologist Daniel Fisher of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, a coauthor of the ancient California bones paper. No fossil evidence indicates crocodiles lived there at that time, he adds. Several lines of evidence, including pounding marks and damage near joints, point to stone-tool use at the West Coast site, says archaeologist Richard Fullagar of the University of Wollongong in Australia, also a coauthor of the mastodon paper.

Further studies of the 3.4-million-year-old African bones previously reported as probable examples of animal butchery will statistically compare the probability of various causes for particular marks, including crocodile bites, says Shannon McPherron, the lead author of the earlier study and an archaeologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. In that way, researchers can assess whether any one cause stands out as the strongest candidate.

Alligators eat sharks, new research


This New Scientist video from the USA says about itself:

25 September 2017

A previously overlooked conflict between alligators and sharks has been going on for centuries at least, and it seems the alligators are winning. Read more here.

From Kansas State University in the USA:

Bite on this: Alligators actually eat sharks

October 16, 2017

Jaws, beware! Alligators may be coming for you. A new study documents American alligators on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are eating small sharks and stingrays. This is the first scientific documentation of a widespread interaction between the two predators.

Jaws, beware! Alligators may be coming for you, according to a Kansas State University researcher.

While the sharks may not actually be as big as the fictional Jaws, James Nifong, postdoctoral researcher with the Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Kansas State University, and Russell Lowers, wildlife biologist with Integrated Mission Support Services at Kennedy Space Center, published a study in Southeastern Naturalist documenting that American alligators on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are eating small sharks and stingrays. This is the first scientific documentation of a widespread interaction between the two predators.

“In the article, we documented alligators consuming four new species of sharks and one species of stingray,” Nifong said. “Before this, there have only been a few observations from an island off the Georgia coast, but the new findings document the occurrence of these interactions from the Atlantic coast of Georgia around the Florida peninsula to the Gulf Coast and Florida panhandle.”

Despite the freshwater and saltwater differences, Nifong said it is fairly common for sharks and rays to share the water with alligators. Many sharks and rays can swim into freshwater where opportunistic alligators can’t pass up a good meal. Although alligators don’t have salt glands like true crocodiles, they are resourceful as they travel between freshwater and marine habitats.

“Alligators seek out fresh water in high-salinity environments,” Nifong said. “When it rains really hard, they can actually sip fresh water off the surface of the salt water. That can prolong the time they can stay in a saltwater environment.”

An alligator’s diet typically consists of crustaceans, snails and fish, but because alligators are opportunistic predators, Nifong said sharks may end up on the menu.

“The findings bring into question how important sharks and rays are to the alligator diet as well as the fatality of some the juvenile sharks when we think about population management of endangered species,” Nifong said.

As part of Nifong’s dissertation research, he pumped the stomachs of more than 500 live and alert alligators to learn more about their diet. Researchers also equipped the alligators with GPS transmitters to watch their movements and found that alligators travel between freshwater sources and estuaries, which are a partially enclosed coastal water body where freshwater and salt water mix and house shark nurseries.

“The frequency of one predator eating the other is really about size dynamic,” Nifong said “If a small shark swims by an alligator and the alligator feels like it can take the shark down, it will, but we also reviewed some old stories about larger sharks eating smaller alligators.”

Nifong dug into history and found news reports from the late 1800s that described battles of large masses of sharks and alligators after flooding and high tides washed the predators together. One particular historical incident included in the journal article described how the sharks were attracted to blood from alligators feeding on fish. When the alligators were washed out to sea, the sharks attacked.

Nifong conducted the alligator diet research as part of larger research of freshwater river systems and food web dynamics. He currently is researching the drivers of native fish biodiversity in the Neosho River Basin for Martha Matter in the Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, a part of the Division of Biology at Kansas State University.

See also here.

Big Jurassic crocodile discovery in Britain


This video says about itself:

2 October 2017

British waters are reassuringly free of deadly reptiles today – but 163 million years ago a sea crocodile dubbed the ‘Melksham monster’ lurked on our shores.

Scientists have established that the 10-foot long creature, named after the town in Wiltshire where its fossil was unearthed, lived in the warm, shallow seas that covered much of what is now Europe.

The heavily damaged fossil had been sitting in the archives of London’s Natural History Museum since 1875.

Its identification reveals that an extinct group of aquatic reptiles evolved millions of years earlier than was previously thought.

The creature’s powerful jaws and large, serrated teeth allowed it to feed on large prey including prehistoric squid, and it was one of the most fearsome predators of its day.

Modern crocodiles are largely found in tropical regions of Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia. Their ancient ancestor is named Ieldraan melkshamensis after the Wiltshire town of Melksham where it was found preserved in clay.

Its name also means ‘older one’ because it was thought until now that the sub-family of prehistoric crocodiles to which it belongs – known as Geosaurini – originated in the Late Jurassic period, between 152 and 157 million years ago.

In fact, the latest discovery – together with detailed re-analysis of existing fossil evidence – suggests the group arose millions of years earlier, in the Middle Jurassic.

It was identified as a new species based on distinctive features of its skull, lower jaw and, in particular, its teeth.

Dr Steve Brusatte, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who was involved in the study, said: ‘The Melksham Monster would have been one of the top predators in the oceans of Jurassic Britain, at the same time that dinosaurs were thundering across the land.’

From the University of Edinburgh in Scotland:

Monstrous crocodile fossil points to early rise of ancient reptiles

October 2, 2017

A newly identified prehistoric marine predator has shed light on the origins of the distant relatives of modern crocodiles.

The discovery reveals that an extinct group of aquatic reptiles evolved millions of years earlier than was previously thought, researchers say.

Palaeontologists at the University of Edinburgh discovered the new species — which dates back 163 million years — by studying a heavily damaged fossil which was held in the Natural History Museum‘s archives for almost 150 years.

The ancient reptile — called Ieldraan melkshamensis — has been nicknamed the Melksham Monster after the town in England where it was unearthed.

Until now, it was thought that the sub-family of prehistoric crocodiles to which the new species belongs — known as Geosaurini — originated in the Late Jurassic period, between 152 and 157 million years ago.

However, the latest discovery — together with detailed re-analysis of existing fossil evidence — suggests that the group arose millions of years earlier, in the Middle Jurassic, the team says.

The little-studied specimen — acquired by the museum in 1875 — was identified as a new species based on distinctive features of its skull, lower jaw and, in particular, its teeth.

The study, published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, was carried out in collaboration with the Natural History Museum, London. The research was funded by Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions.

Davide Foffa, a PhD student in the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said: “It’s not the prettiest fossil in the world, but the Melksham Monster tells us a very important story about the evolution of these ancient crocodiles and how they became the apex predators in their ecosystem. Without the amazing preparation work done by our collaborators at the Natural History Museum, it would not have been possible to work out the anatomy of this challenging specimen.”

Mark Graham, Senior Fossil Preparator at the Natural History Museum, said: “The specimen was completely enclosed in a super-hard rock nodule with veins of calcite running through, which had formed around it during the process of fossilisation. This unyielding matrix had to be removed by force, using carbon steel tipped chisels and grinding wheels encrusted with industrial diamonds. The work took many hours over a period of weeks, and great care had to be taken to avoid damaging the skull and teeth as they became exposed. This was one tough old croc in life and death!”

South African hippos save wildebeest from crocodile


This video from South Africa says about itself:

Hippos Come to Rescue Wildebeest from Crocodile

29 August 2017

Timing is everything when visiting Kruger [National Park]… 72-year-old pensioner, Mervyn Van Wyk and his wife Tokkie, understand just how lucky they were to be in the right place at the right time!

Hippos threatened by ivory poachers: here.

Impala escapes from crocodile


This video from Maasai Mara national park in Kenya says about itself:

12 September 2017

Impala miraculously escapes from the deadly jaws of a crocodile.

Endangered Cuban crocodiles back in the wild


This video says about itself:

Wild Cuba [Nature Documentary] HD

12 July 2015

Cuba’s political and economic isolation has provided the outside world little opportunity to see its wildlife … until now. It may be renowned for its politics and its cigars, but Cuba is home to some of the most unusual creatures on earth, including the feisty Cuban crocodile, the world’s smallest bird and frog, and migrating land crabs.

Cuba’s diverse wildlife stems from its unique natural history. Cuba was not originally in the Caribbean Sea but in the Pacific Ocean, where the island was situated 100 million years ago, before the forces of continental drift slowly brought it into the Caribbean. As the island migrated over the ages, an astonishing variety of life arrived by air, sea, and possibly by land bridges that may have once existed. Over time, these animals adapted to their new environment. Today, more than half of Cuba’s plants and animals, including more than 80 percent of its reptiles and amphibians, are found nowhere else on the planet.

From the Wildlife Conservation Society:

Endangered Cuban crocodiles come home

July 13, 2017

Experts from WCS’s Global Conservation Programs and WCS’s Bronx Zoo assisted Cuban conservationists in the recent release of 10 Cuban crocodiles (Crocodylus rhombifer) into Cuba’s Zapata Swamp as part of an ongoing recovery strategy for this Critically Endangered species.

These genetically pure crocodiles came from a breeding facility near the Zapata swamp. Hybridization with American crocodiles, which occur in the Southwestern tip of the Zapata Peninsula, is an ongoing issue and has contributed to the Cuban crocodile’s continuing decline. Cuban crocodiles face other threats, such as an increase in illegal hunting in recent years, so the release of captive bred Cuban crocodiles and the protection of these reptiles from poaching and hybridization is critical to the survival of the species in the wild.

The crocodiles were released in the Wildlife Refuge Channels of Hanabana (Refugio de Fauna Canales de Hanábana) — a 570 hectare (1,400 acre) mosaic of water channels, lagoons, marsh grasslands, and swamp forests in the easternmost Zapata Peninsula where Cuban crocodiles historically occurred. Marsh grasslands in this refuge provide crucial habitat for not only Cuban crocodiles, but prey including bird, fish and mammal species. No American crocodiles or hybrids are found in this Wildlife Refuge.

The recent release, which took place on June 8th, is the second reintroduction since Cuba started to release Cuban crocodiles in 2016. The decision to release the crocodiles followed a workshop of crocodile experts organized by WCS and Cuban institutions, including the Fundación Antonio Nuñez Jiménez, CITMA Ciénaga de Zapata, and Empresa Nacional para la Protección de la Flora y la Fauna. The workshop brought together 40 Cuban nationals working for the conservation of crocodiles in Cuba, and 30 international experts.

The workshop resulted in a series of agreed priorities for improving the conservation of crocodiles, including: strengthening the research and monitoring of Cuban crocodiles in the wild; increasing efforts to reintroduce and monitor reintroduced animals in Channels of Hanabana; working with local communities to reduce poaching through alternative livelihoods and environmental education; and working with local authorities to strengthen compliance to reduce illegal selling of crocodile meat.

Said Natalia Rossi, WCS Cuba Program Manager: “This workshop was important because it enabled the second release of Cuban crocodiles into the wild and motivated all participants to do even more to save this critically endangered species. Our workshop was fundamental to bring everyone together to share the work being done to save the Cuban crocodile.”

The critically endangered Cuban crocodile has the smallest, most restricted geographic distribution among all living crocodilian species, being only found in parts of the Zapata and Lanier swamps. Historically it was found throughout the Zapata Peninsula, but indiscriminate hunting for skins beginning in the second half of the 19th century and lasting until the early 1960s decimated most populations. Today, Cuban crocodiles inhabit a territory of about 77,600 hectares (191,700 acres), sharing habitat with the American crocodile and the hybrids of both species.

WCS’s John Thorbjarnarson began working on Cuban crocodiles in the 1990s, and WCS’s Bronx Zoo was the first U.S. zoo to successfully breed Cuban crocodiles. The first one hatched in 1983; six more hatched in 1984, and 21 in 1985. There has been no reproduction since then, but the zoo has a new young pair of crocodiles that will be introduced to each other late this year.

Kevin Torregrosa, Herpetology Collections Manager for WCS’s Bronx Zoo, attended the workshop to establish collaboration opportunities with individuals working with crocodiles in the breeding centers as well as with wild populations.

Said Torregrosa: “Cuba is a fairly isolated island and getting the chance to see the conservation effort in practice was very enlightening. I believe the Cubans were very happy to have the opportunity to show the international community the work that they have been doing.”