Species List
Classification of Crocodilians

CLASSIFICATION | FUTURE TRENDS | HOW MANY SPECIES? | OTHER DEBATES
REFERENCES | SPECIES LIST


1. CLASSIFICATION

2. FUTURE TRENDS

3. NO. OF SPECIES?

4. OTHER DEBATES

5. REFERENCES



WANT MORE DETAIL? CHECK OUT KING & BURKE 1997
Link to King & Burke 1997
CROC CHECKLIST



READ THE DEBATE ABOUT CAIMAN CLASSIFICATION
Link to Brian Warren's Caiman Taxonomy discussion
CAIMAN TAXONOMY



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SPECIES LIST
Species list
SPECIES LIST


HOW MANY SPECIES ARE THERE?

There's a lot of confusion over just how many species of living crocodilians there are. I've seen numbers ranging from 21 up to 27, although more commonly it is either 22 or 23 species. The reason for all this confusion is because several species have been renamed over time, yet not all of these names have been universally adopted even today. Let's review the evidence and clear this up.

CLASS REPTILIA
ORDER CROCODYLIA
FAMILY ALLIGATORIDAE
Genus Alligator
Alligator mississippiensis
Alligator sinensis
Genus Caiman
Caiman crocodilus
Caiman latirostris
Caiman yacare
Genus Melanosuchus
Melanosuchus niger
Genus Paleosuchus
Paleosuchus palpebrosus
Paleosuchus trigonatus
FAMILY CROCODYLIDAE
Subfamily Crocodylinae
Genus Crocodylus
Crocodylus acutus
Crocodylus cataphractus
Crocodylus intermedius
Crocodylus johnstoni
Crocodylus mindorensis
Crocodylus moreletii
Crocodylus niloticus
Crocodylus novaeguineae
Crocodylus palustris
Crocodylus porosus
Crocodylus rhombifer
Crocodylus siamensis
Osteolaemus tetraspis
Subfamily Tomistominae
Genus Tomistoma
Tomistoma schlegelii
FAMILY GAVIALIDAE
Genus Gavialis
Gavialis gangeticus

According to the most widely-used taxonomic classification (King & Burke 1997), there are 23 living crocodilian species. There are two common sources of confusion for people (highlighted in red), however. The first is the Jacaré Caiman, known these days as Caiman yacare. In fact, Medem (who named it) originally suggested that this caiman should have its own species designation, but later workers attributed it as a subspecies of Caiman crocodilus despite considerable evidence that it should be a separate species. Many older croc books therefore give us Caiman crocodilus yacare, but in fact it is now recognised as a separate species by most workers and recent classifications. Its older usage is still seen occasionally, however.

The second source of confusion comes from the Philippine Crocodile. Although the discoverer, Schmidt, recognised this to be a separate species to the New Guinea Crocodile, some later workers suggested that both the Philippine and the New Guinea Crocodile were subspecies of each other (i.e. Crocodylus novaeguineae mindorensis, and C. novaeguineae novaeguineae respectively). Now, the original designation has been reinstated and Crocodylus mindorensis is a separate species again. Like the Jacaré Caiman, however, most older books list the older status which is then replicated by newer books.

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