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Locomotion - General
General Biology / Moving around: Crocodiles need to move around in order to survive.

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GENERAL BIOLOGY Locomotion - General
high walk
High walk (left), gallop (below)
Galloping C. johnstoni
TYPE:Behaviour
FUNCTION:Moving the body from one place to another to satisfy requirements (e.g. thermoregulation, finding food, social interactions, nesting, escape from threats). On land and in water. Different gaits for different functions
INVOLVING:Front and hind limbs, some movement of the body trunk, and the tail for propulsion in water

GENERAL | BELLY CRAWL | HIGH WALK | GALLOP | SWIMMING | JUMPING

For many animals, moving the body from one place to another is one of the most important everyday tasks. If the animal cannot move, then all the resources it needs to live must come to it. Most animals, though, have retained the ability to move around to best perform a number of essential behaviours.


American alligator 'just lying there' To many people, crocodilians don't appear to move around very much. When was the last time you heard someone at the zoo commenting that the crocodiles just seem to lie there? While crocodiles spend much of the day motionless, or moving very little, it is a mistake to think that they are not very active. In fact, they are capable of surprising speed when required, and they can also move considerable distances overland and in water.


Internal nares and oesophagus Terrestrial locomotion is of interest in crocodilians because it gives us some idea of how their thecodont ancestors might have moved around - most of which were primarily terrestrial. Many of the ancestral crocodyliforms were thought to be mostly active on land, but specialisations in the palate and limb morphology promoted a shift to a more aquatic mode of life. On land, most people tend to think of crocodilians as being somewhat ponderous. They are certainly more efficient at moving in water, but locomotion on land is actually very well developed and can be adapted to suit the situation. Freshwater crocodile in mid-gallopIf they need to, crocodiles can move at remarkable speed on land, belying the image they portray in zoos.


In simple terms, there are three styles of moving on land which are usually referred to: the belly crawl, the high walk, and the gallop. The belly crawl is, as its name implies, very similar in form to the way a lizard moves - the legs are splayed out to the sides and the centre of gravity is low.Internal nares and oesophagus The high walk (see right), however, is totally unlike a reptilian gait, where the crocodile walks more like a mammal. In addition, the gallop is also quite unlike any other reptilian method of locomotion, spectacular to watch and capable of propelling even relatively large crocodiles away from potential danger.

Alligator swimmingCrocodiles are, however, far better at swimming than they are at moving on land - it is far more efficient, and it is the form of locomotion that they perform most frequently. One of the more spectacular things that crocodiles can do is leap out of the water to capture prey. Read on to find out more.



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