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Small stature, big attitude

Schneider's dwarf caiman

Being small is a good way to get yourself eaten. That's why this caiman is going for the big attitude - it's often enough to surprise a predator and give the caiman a chance to escape. But there's more to this caiman than just its approach to life. Dwarf caimans are amongst the most remarkable of all crocodilian species. They're just so different you can't help being fascinated by them. Look at the incredible, sharp scutes running down the neck and back. John White, this month's photographer, provides us with the low-down on this little bundle of teeth:

"This portrait of a Schneider's dwarf caiman (Paleosuchus trigonatus) shows the extensive sharp scutes and bony ossification along the back. The iris of the eye also tends to take on a greenish hue near the top, unlike the "chocolate brown" iris found in the other species of dwarf caiman, Cuvier's dwarf caiman (Paleosuchus palpebrosus).

P. trigonatus shows remarkable convergent evolution (similar morphology) with the African dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis). Together with P. palpebrosus, these three species are amongst the smallest of all crocodilians. The sharp scutes present on the neck, back and tail can make handling adults of this "small" crocodilian fairly difficult. According to "Crocodiles and Alligators" (ed. Charles Ross), P. trigonatus is much stronger than other caimans of similar size."



Do you have a photograph which you'd like to become the Pic of the Month? Submit it and I'll select the best. The best photograph I receive each year will receive a prize - an Ilfochrome print - to be awarded in December.


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