Feisty from birth: Saltwater crocodile just wants to fight
Wednesday, December 25, 2013 - 01:24
Dec. 25 - The Australian saltwater crocodile's natural tendency towards aggression begins at birth, according to a study carried out at Charles Darwin University in Australia's Northern Territory. The study found that of seven different species, the saltwater crocodile was not only the most aggressive but is also prone to belligerence from the minute it leaves the egg. Sharon Reich reports.
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Australia's saltwater crocodile is a born aggressor.
In a study of juveniles from seven related crocodile, alligator and gharial species, the saltwater crocodile ruled the roost according to study co-author, Matthew Brien.
SOUNDBITE (English) MATTHEW BRIEN - WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST, CHARLES DARWIN UNIVERSITY, SAYING:
"You've got quite aggressive species like your saltwater crocodile which is number one, and the New Guinea freshwater crocodile was also quite aggressive."
With its broad snout and crushing jaws, the adult saltwater crocodile has been studied widely...but little is know about juveniles, which stay well hidden until adulthood.
Brien wanted to know if the animal's brain is hard-wired for aggression from birth.
SOUNDBITE (English) MATTHEW BRIEN - WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST, CHARLES DARWIN UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "This behaviour where they twitch their tail before launching themselves into the other one then swinging their head quite violently into the head or the body of an opponent and, you know, like a side head trike and really, we've only ever seen that in adults during the breeding season."
The other six species that were studied displayed varying degrees of aggression, with the American alligator and Indian gharial the two least belligerent.
Darwin zoologist Grahame Webb says he's in no doubt the saltie - as its known - is born aggressive.
SOUNDBITE (English) GRAHAME WEBB, ZOOLOGIST SAYING: "Hard-wired because when they come out into the world the first thing they they've got to do is confront another crocodile."
...confront another crocodile in order to survive.
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