Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.5 Leyo
Researchers from Florida International University have identified the first new species of crocodile in 85 years.
Despite walking the Earth for more than 200 million years, crocodiles continue to throw up surprises.
During a recent study in to slender-snouted crocodiles in Central Africa and West Africa, researcher Matthew Shirley and colleagues came to the conclusion that this particular variety of reptile was not one, but two distinct species – the first discovery of its type in almost nine decades.
At a glance, West African and Central African slender-snouted crocodiles both look extraordinarily similar, however on closer inspection it is possible to note slight difference in the shapes of their skulls.
The reason that nobody had noticed this before is because there has been precious little direct study of these two species, both due to their remote location and their ability to hide very easily.
The discovery has also highlighted just how endangered the West African variety actually is.
“We estimate only 10 percent of slender-snouted crocodiles occur in West Africa, effectively diminishing its population by 90 percent,” said Shirley.
“This makes the West African slender-snouted crocodile one of the most critically endangered crocodile species in the world.”