Coordination and Collaboration discovered in Hunting Crocodilians: A Club of Hunters


We have already read Vladimir Dinets’ research work about certain species of crocodiles and alligators that very intelligently made use of twigs to lure its prey, to climbing tree’s crown to keep an eye on its potential prey or an approaching enemy. Apart from these, advanced parental care, complex communication are other behavior noticed in reptiles. 

In the latest study, research assistant professor Vladimir Dinets, in the Department of Psychology, has found advanced hunting technique of crocodiles. The study is unique because Dinets made use of social media as a source to document such behavior. He searched Facebook and other social sites asking amateur naturalists, non-scientists and crocodile researchers for who might have come across any reptile-hunting incident. Dinets himself have more than 3,000 hours of research done along with studying several diaries of scientists.

Information procured from different sources

Idea to include the power of social media was plainly used because it is difficult to study hunting techniques of crocodiles and other reptiles, including caimans and alligators as they have a slow metabolism, often eat less in comparison to warm-blooded animals and are ambush predators. Challenge for the researchers increases further, as these reptiles are generally nocturnal by nature and like to go for a kill in the murky waters of remote tropical rivers and swamps. Therefore, it is difficult to observe crocodile hunting, although accidentally non-specialists and amateur naturalists that are either not published or might appear in unknown journals.

Hunting technique

The information procured from different sources indicates that the reptile hunting technique requires coordination and collaboration among the reptiles. They are highly organized while hunting. Like crocodiles were seen swimming in a form of circle around the fishes and gradually tightening the circle and forcing the fishes into a bait ball. After this, one by one crocodiles cut across the center of bait ball so created, grabbing their prey. Researchers also noticed that based on the size of the bigger crocodile in the team are the one who are responsible for driving the fish from deep water towards shallow waters where smaller sized crocodiles wait and guard fish from escaping.

In another observation, a crocodile startled a pig, which jumped off a trail and fell straight into a lagoon where two other crocodiles were waiting in ambush. This incident shows that the participating crocodiles had predicted each other’s position and plan of action even without seeing each other.

Based on these observation Dinets believes that crocodile might be a part of a select group of hunters- which includes humans and another twenty or so animal species that can coordinate their actions in advanced ways and delegate different responsibilities to each participating individuals’ based on size or other abilities. In fact, their hunting expertise might be second only to humans.

Certainly, there are much more to know about the animals that are living on the planet for ages where many others could not survive and got extinct. We might be underestimating these reptiles of what exactly they are capable of doing. After the movie, Rise of the Planet Apes it’s probably time for the Rise of the Planet Reptiles. Certainly, we won’t prefer living in a reptilian time like that.

Source: The University of Tennessee

Image: ScienceDaily

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