The Lack of Pleistocene Crocodylus acutus Fossils in Southeastern North America and its Climatic Implications


The American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) has a range limited to the tropics.  The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) can survive subfreezing air temperatures by  finding refuge in deep water holes, and they can even remain active in water as cold as 45 degrees Fahrenheit, but these temperatures kill crocodiles.  The unusual freezing temperatures that struck south Florida in 2009 killed 150 crocodiles–roughly 8% of the population there.  Freezing temperatures are the main limiting factor on the American crocodile’s range.  Scientists refer to this as the “winter air isotherm.”

Range of  Crocodylus acutus.

The American crocodile is an ancient species.  The oldest known fossils of this species were found in the Rio Tomayate River, El Salvador, and they date to about 1.5 million years BP.  It is an adaptable animal capable of swimming from Cuba to Florida.  Although most females have strict nesting ranges, some males are capable…

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About George Crawford

archaeologist, archer, primitive technologist, and wannabee musician ... mostly
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