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Crocodilian images which reveal fascinating stories told from a visual perspective.



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Death from Below

Crocodile jumps up to snatch a bat

The Black Flying Fox, Pteropus alecto, is found throughout Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. These bats roost in trees in large colonies. They squabble constantly, screech at any neighbour who gets too close, and make short, unceremonious flights between branches. In the heat of the day, they retreat to the lower branches, rarely quelling their strident, argumentative tones. So preoccupied are they with each other that they simply do not notice a gentle disturbance in the water below them. Little do they know that one of them is lunch.

A pair of eyes and a pair of nostrils breaks the surface of the water. The nostrils dilate, and air in inhaled. Movement above catches the animal's attention, and the nostrils begin to rise up from the surface. The snout of a Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) slides out of the water, eyes and teeth angling towards the disturbance above. Movement is slow and barely perceptible. The bats have no idea they're being watched. The crocodile estimates the distance between itself and the branches, binocular vision providing an accurate fix. Crocodiles can use their tails with great force, propelling themselves forwards through the water with great speed. By angling its body towards the surface and swimming upwards at speed, the crocodile is capable of launching itself out of the water for over half its body length or more. Any bat which moves within range - perhaps 3 metres - is within striking range.

One of the bats looks downwards. Perhaps it sees something unusual in the water, but no matter! Its neighbour is making a nuisance of itself once more, trying to find a more stable branch to hang from. The bat screeches, and flaps its wings in annoyance. Suddenly, 68 teeth close around it in a terrifying and shattering crash! The world goes dark. The last thing it hears is a splash as the crocodile falls back to the water. Moving away from the colony several metres, the crocodile lifts its head, and its prize, clear of the water before manipulating it deftly in its jaws. Bones snap and shatter as the powerful jaws crush the bat several times, teeth puncturing the body and making it easier to digest. Finally, the bat is flicked to the back of the mouth, its leathery wings disappearing down the crocodile's throat. The bats in the tree hardly noticed anything. A disturbance down below? Nothing special about that. One less bat means little to the colony, but it will sustain the crocodile for another week or so until its next meal.


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