Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Crocodilians can climb trees and bask in the tree crowns

Date:
February 10, 2014
Source:
University of Tennessee
Summary:
When most people envision crocodiles and alligators, they think of them waddling on the ground or wading in water -- not climbing trees. However, a new study has found that the reptiles can climb trees as far as the crowns.

An American alligator perches on a tree branch in Pearl River Delta, Mississippi.
Credit: Kristine Gingras, courtesy of University of Tennessee

When most people envision crocodiles and alligators, they think of them waddling on the ground or wading in water -- not climbing trees. However, a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, study has found that the reptiles can climb trees as far as the crowns.

Related Articles


Vladimir Dinets, a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, is the first to thoroughly study the tree-climbing and -basking behavior. The research is published in the journal Herpetology.

Dinets and his colleagues observed crocodilian species on three continents -- Australia, Africa and North America -- and examined previous studies and anecdotal observations. They found that four species climbed trees -- usually above water -- but how far they ventured upward and outward varied by their sizes. The smaller crocodilians were able to climb higher and further than the larger ones. Some species were observed climbing as far as four meters high in a tree and five meters down a branch.

"Climbing a steep hill or steep branch is mechanically similar, assuming the branch is wide enough to walk on," the authors wrote. "Still, the ability to climb vertically is a measure of crocodiles' spectacular agility on land."

The crocodilians seen climbing trees, whether at night or during the day, were skittish of being approached, jumping or falling into the water when an approaching observer was as far as 10 meters away. This response led the researchers to believe that the tree climbing and basking are driven by two conditions: thermoregulation and surveillance of habitat.

"The most frequent observations of tree-basking were in areas where there were few places to bask on the ground, implying that the individuals needed alternatives for regulating their body temperature," the authors wrote. "Likewise, their wary nature suggests that climbing leads to improved site surveillance of potential threats and prey."

The data suggests that at least some crocodilian species are able to climb trees despite lacking any obvious morphological adaptations to do so.

"These results should be taken into account by paleontologists who look at changes in fossils to shed light on behavior," said Dinets. "This is especially true for those studying extinct crocodiles or other Archosaurian taxa."

Dinets collaborated with Adam Britton from Charles Darwin University in Australia and Matthew Shirley from the University of Florida.

Research by Dinets published in 2013 found another surprising crocodilian characteristic -- the use of lures such as sticks to hunt prey. More of his research can be found in his book "Dragon Songs."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Tennessee. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dinets V, Britton A, Shirley MH. Climbing behavior in extant crocodilians. Herpetology Notes, 2014 [link]

Cite This Page:

University of Tennessee. "Crocodilians can climb trees and bask in the tree crowns." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140210184547.htm>.
University of Tennessee. (2014, February 10). Crocodilians can climb trees and bask in the tree crowns. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140210184547.htm
University of Tennessee. "Crocodilians can climb trees and bask in the tree crowns." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140210184547.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) A string of black bear attacks has Florida officials considering lifting the ban on hunting the animals to control their population. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) Experts estimate Ebola has wiped out one-third of the world&apos;s gorillas and chimpanzees. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) Activists hope the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) will label killer whales endangered, allowing lawyers to sue a Miami aquarium to release an orca into the wild after 44 years. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

Buzz60 (Jan. 23, 2015) Some &apos;healthy&apos; foods are actually fattening. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) shines a light on the sneaky foods like nuts, seeds, granola, trail mix, avocados, guacamole, olive oil, peanut butter, fruit juices and salads that are good for you...but not so much for your waistline. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins