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The Gavial (Gavialis Gangeticus)

125889_4_gavial2.jpg
Gavial (Gavialis Gangeticus)





Physical Traits Exceeded in size only by the Saltwater Crocodile, Gavials can grow up to 6 meters long. The Gavial thrives in deep rivers. They're powerful swimmers but graceless on land, and will only leave the water to bask in the sun or nest. They cannot pick themselves up, so they can't walk (Due to their incompetent leg muscles), but rather belly slide to get around on land. The Gavial is most famously known for its long, narrow snout, which has been evolutionized that way in order to be optimum for catching fish.Its elongated, narrow snout becomes proportionally shorter and thicker as an animal ages. The bulbous growth on the tip of a male’s snout renders gharials the only visibly sexually dimorphic crocodilian. This growth is present in mature individuals and called ghara after the Indian word meaning “pot”. Males utilize the structure to modify and amplify “hisses” snorted through the underlying nostrils. The resultant sound can be heard for nearly a kilometer on a still day. The ghara is used to generate a resonant hum during vocalization. It acts as a visual lure for attracting females, and is also used to make bubbles, which have been associated with the mating rituals of the species.


Diagram of a Gharial's Snout
Diagram of a Gharial's Snout
An example of the Gharial male's bulbous nose.
An example of the Gharial male's bulbous nose.





Scientific Information They are the only surviving member of a once well-known family of crocodilians with long, sender snouts. Young Gharials eat insects, larvae, and small frogs, while the adults eat almost solely fish, but have sometimes been seen to scavenge dead animals. Their mating season is from November to December and well into January, while nesting and laying eggs take place in March, April, and May because the shore is more dry during those months. The female tends to deposit 30-50 eggs, and after about ninty days they hatch. It hasn't been seen yet if the mother helps her babies into the water, but she does protect and watch over them for a few days after they're born.





Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:
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Illustration of the animal's relative size
Illustration of the animal's relative size

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Quick-Facts

  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Average lifespan in the wild: 40-60 years
  • Size: 12.25 to 15.5 ft (3.6 to 4.5 m)
  • Weight: 2,200 lbs (977 kg)
  • The gharial's scientific name, Gavialis gangeticus, is based on a misspelling of the Hindi word ghariyal.
  • Gharials are among the largest of the crocodilians.
  • They are extinct or almost everywhere except India.
  • They are among the most endangered animals on the planet because of poaching for the skin trade, habitat reduction and accidental killings by fishermen.
  • There are about 100 small teeth that line the bottom and top of its mouth.
  • Even though it has an immensely sized mouth, its jaw is too fragile to consume a large animal like a human.






A nice view of some of their razor-sharp teeth.
A nice view of some of their razor-sharp teeth.
In this video, a scientist has gotten a rare shot of Gavial new-born babies. Though there were about 20-30 nests on the tiny island of sand, and it makes it seem as if quite a bit of Gavials will exist in the next generation (there were about 500 babies in the nests put together), it's a saddening thought at the same time, because it means that out of the Gavial's whole reservoir that small island was the only suitable spot for their young




Related Topics:General CrocodilesReptilesCarnivores



MLA Citations


1) "Gavial (Gharial)." National Geographic n. pag. Web. 9 Mar 2011. <http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/gavial.html>.

2) "Gavial." Web. <http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/gavials/Gharial.php>.

3)"Gharial." Wikipedia. N.p., 10 March 2011 at 02:36. Web. 10 Mar 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gharial>.





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