Living Dinosaurs: Fun Facts on Our Morelet's Crocodiles
September 28, 2017
In the Mayan culture, crocodiles were revered creatures, symbolizing new beginnings and potential. So it’s only appropriate that these toothy reptiles will be an important part of the Aquarium’s new beginnings in Caribbean Journey.
These beautiful Morelet’s crocodiles will reside in the Karst pool of Caribbean Journey’s jungle, basking on the shore or lurking just at the surface of the water.
In the wild, Morelet’s crocodiles live only in the freshwater regions of Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala, where they can grow to be over 9 feet in length. They are opportunistic predators, feeding on just about everything that can get their jaws around, from fish and small mammals to birds or even large prey like goats. The crocodile’s mouth is lined with 66 or more sharp teeth, which help it grab and hold onto its next meal. Rather than chewing their food, they’ll tear off chunks and swallow them whole.
These crocs get their name from French naturalist Pierre Marie Arthur Morelet, who discovered the crocs in 1850. However, the crocodile wasn’t designated as a distinct species until the 1920s.
And while the Morelet’s was only discovered relatively recently, crocodiles have been swimming the Earth for more than 180 million years, making them as close as we’ll probably ever get to seeing real-life dinosaurs.
With their tough armored skin, muscular lizard-like bodies, and long snouts, crocodiles are commonly mistaken for alligators. So how do you know if you’ve seen an alligator and a crocodile? Well, a crocodile you see after a while, and an alligator you see later. In all seriousness, there are some telltale signs to differentiate these two aquatic reptiles. Alligators have wide, U-shaped snouts, while a crocodile’s mouth is a more pointed V-shape. When their mouths are closed, you can usually only see an alligator’s top teeth, while in a crocodile you can see both upper and lower teeth.
You’ll soon get a real up-close look at these croc’s unique features when Caribbean Journey opens in May 2017.