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Biology Of Crocodilians, Species Of Crocodilians, Crocodilians And People

The crocodile order (Crocodylia) consists of several families of large, unmistakable, amphibious reptiles: the crocodiles (Crocodylidae), gavials (Gavialidae), and the alligators and caimans (Alligatoridae). Although these animals look superficially like lizards, they are different in many important respects, and are believed by biologists to be the most highly evolved of the living reptiles.

Crocodilians are amphibious animals, spending most of their time in water but emerging onto land to bask in the sun and lay their eggs. Their usual habitat is in warm tropical or subtropical waters. Most species occur in freshwater, with only the saltwater crocodile being partial to marine habitats. Fish are the typical food of most adult crocodilians, but the biggest species will An American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus). Photograph by Tom & Pat Leeson. The National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission. also eat large mammals, including humans. Younger crocodilians eat invertebrates and small fish.

Crocodilians are economically important for their thick, attractive hide, which can be used to make fine leather for expensive consumer goods, such as shoes, handbags, and other luxury items. Wild crocodilians are hunted for their hide wherever they occur, and in some areas they are also raised on ranches for this purpose. Crocodilian meat is also eaten, often as a gourmet food.

Most populations of wild crocodilians have been greatly reduced in size because of overhunting and habitat loss, and numerous species are endangered.

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