How have crocodiles survived for so long?

How have crocodiles survived for so long?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 06/10/2019

Reading time: 3 mins

Listed as one of the scariest creatures in Australia, the Saltwater crocodile is the at the top of the food chain and has been there for millions of years.

They are the biggest reptiles in the entire world, stretching out 5 to 7 metres on average. The Crocs roam within Australia’s tropical wetlands, using rivers, lakes, and even the ocean shores as they are hunting grounds.

Crocodiles are ancient creatures, first appearing over 240 million years ago during the Mesozoic Era, with their neighbours being the famous dinosaurs. But how did these crocodiles survive the chaos of the K/T Extinction?

  • Crocodiles were exceptionally well-adapted

    Dinosaurs came in all shapes and sizes, ranging from a tiny bird size chickens to an enormous elephant legged beasts. In contrast, crocodiles have stuck with a similar body for the last 200 million years.They’re real examples of the motto ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’. This may have given them quite the advantage. Their short legs and low-slung posture may have allowed them to literally ‘keep their heads down’ during the disaster.

  • Crocodiles have cold blood

    After studying the dinosaurs for hundreds of years, scientists have discovered that a large majority of them were warm-blooded. This meant they had to constantly eat to fuel their metabolisms to maintain a steady temperature. Neither of these factors was efficient during the cold and dark conditions following the Yucatan meteor impact. Crocodiles have cold-blooded metabolisms, which means they were able to live for long periods of time in severe darkness, cold, and with very little food.

  • They live near the water

    During the end of the Cretaceous period, massive beasts roamed the ocean waters, with sharks ten times the size of the great white, and even carnivores larger than blue whales. However, the extinction wiped out these sea-dwelling mosasaurs, much the same as their land-dwelling neighbours. However, for some reason, freshwater rivers and lakes were less impacted by the meteor. This helped the Crocodiles survive, as their amphibious lifestyle let them roam the rivers to escape the land and sea disasters.

  • They were smarter

    Although all these reasons are all theories, this is probably the most controversial hypothesis. They are as smart as cats or dogs; able to use tools in circumstances, be incredibly sneaky, and recognise familiar humans at times. However, a large number of dinosaurs were also incredibly smart and look what happened to them!

Related article: The Feeding and Breeding Habits of Australian Saltwater Crocodiles

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.