Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Paleo in Pop Culture - The Bronx Zoo

Paleo in Pop Culture

Within the walls of one of the buildings at the Bronx Zoo, there is the "preserved" skull of a crocodile. Although likely carved or casted in the concrete, it still intrigued me. They made it look so much like a fossil that I wanted to know what it was. And for the longest time I was not sure of the specific species of crocodile, although I assumed it was at least an extant (currently living) species. I come to find out one of my friends, Domenic D'Amore, a Vertebrate Anatomy Professor at Daemen College, knows a bit about crocodiles and I asked him for his take on the image. His answer seems to be the magic answer: Tomistoma, the false gharial. 

Carving in the concrete at the Bronx Zoo. Assumed to be Tomistoma

The Tomistoma is a freshwater crocodile that is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Thailand. They generally live in rivers, lakes, and swamps, but prefer low lying areas of land. They have a varied diet that ranges from fish and lizards to even cattle in some recorded instances. The Bronx Zoo actually has some Tomistoma crocodiles named Elvis and Priscilla, which have been with the zoo since 1988. The Tomistoma is noted for its narrow snout and very sharp teeth. 

The Tomistoma is classified as Vulnerable with less than 10,000 known individuals known to exist in the wild.

Elvis and Priscilla. Tomistoma crocodiles at the Bronx Zoo. Photo courtesy of WCS.


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