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Tiny Dwarf

Hatching dwarf crocodile

This month's Pic of the Month was taken by John Brueggen of the St Augustine Alligator Farm. St Augustine is lucky enough to hold all 23 species of crocodilians, so they see amazing sights such as this one on a regular basis.

This is an African dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis) still sitting in its egg. The hard outer shell has been cracked away, and the inner leathery membrane pulled back to reveal a tiny version of one of the world's smallest crocodilian species taking its first few breaths of air. I'm always amazed how tightly crocodilian embryos are coiled within their protective shell immediately before hatching. When they do hatch, a tiny notch of skin in front of the nostrils (the "egg tooth") helps to pierce the shell, and the spring-loaded tail helps to propel the tiny creature into the world. In the wild, it's certainly not a friendly world, but in captivity a high percentage of embryos will survive to become adults.


Feb Caption Contest Winner

Last month's caption contest attracted quite a few entries, all vying for a genuine and highly sought-after Darwin crocodile postcard! Normally such an important contest would be arbitrated by a number of hand-picked, learned judges, but in this case you'll simply have to make do with my decision.

Two prominent themes ran through these entries, both from the soggy realm of the gutter! Flatulence and indiscretion were the order of the day, although props to John Pigott whose unprintable caption made me chuckle. John wins the runner up prize (a Darwin post card from the local post office).

There were a few massage-related captions, summed up best by Patrick Kipp's "This was NOT the image I had of a massage on the beach". My other favorites were Rick's "One of these days these webbed feet are going to   walk   right   over   you", Brad DeYoung's "So you got a bit of his finger. Wait until you see what I come back with!", Michael Pelc's suggested quote from the front page of the National Enquirer "Inside this issue: Exclusive Photos of Tampa Bay's Secret Defense Formation as Team Prepares for Super Bowl XXXVI" and Lynda Pollock's 7th grade students' image of class change with the teacher hollering "Walk on the right and keep moving. No PDA!" (physical demonstration of affection).

But the winner of the signed postcard from Darwin's Crocodylus Park is Leonardo MAD. His caption seemed most appropriate, and more importantly made me laugh. As said by the crocodile on the left, "When I told you to search for the WWF, I didn't mean the World Wrestling Federation!". Send me your mailing address Leonardo, and I'll send you your prize.

Thanks to everyone for entering and making the contest a lot of fun. I'll certainly do more in the future - there are plenty of crocodile postcards out there!


Would you like to enter your best photograph into the 2003 competition? Send me a photograph and I'll include the best here each month. The winner will be voted for in January 2004, and will receive an Ilford Cibachrome print prize to be awarded in early 2004. The only criteria for submitting a photograph is this: it must capture the attention.


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