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


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Here's Looking at You

Close-up of saltwater crocodile head

This month's photograph comes from Sue Steffy and shows Sydney, a female Saltwater Crocodile (C. porosus) living at St Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida. The SAAF is a popular place for photos, and remains the only facility where you can see all 23 crocodilian species. Sydney lives with Maximo, a pair of crocodiles recently imported from Australia. Both Sydney and Maximo live in an exhibit with an underwater viewing window, which is how Sue managed to get such a detailed photograph of the head.

If you do get a chance to see a crocodile head up close and personal, you begin to realise just how well-adapted the crocodile is as a semi-aquatic predator. You can clearly see the eye, which is covered with a transparent nictitating membrane to protect it underwater, and you can also see the ear flap behind the eye. While this flap is sealed tight, there's a tiny slit at the front of the flap that can be operated independently. Here it is open, and you can see a tiny bubble of air sitting here. Crocodiles can either open or shut the main flap or this slit when underwater, which may put water in direct contact with the ear's tympanic membrane. We still don't understand what role, if any, this plays in crocodile hearing. The other key feature clearly visible in this photograph is the dermal pressure receptors (DPRs) - small dots (they appear white here) that cover the scales around the jaws. These are pressure receptors and can detect the slightest disturbance in the water or on the surface. When vision is compromised in murky water, these receptors are often the only way that the crocodile can perceive its surroundings and - more importantly - detect potential prey near the jaws.





Would you like to enter your best photograph as a potential Pic of the Month? Send it to me and I'll include the best here each month. Each year I run a competition where the best photograph each year is awarded an Ilfochrome print. The only criteria for submitting a photograph is this: it must capture the attention.


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