Wildlife

Dinner’s-Eye View of a Saltwater Croc

If you were to look a saltwater crocodile in the mouth as it tried to eat you, this is what you’d see.

Saltwater crocodiles have surprisingly varied personalities. While one skims along the surface for a while, then chomps down at the last second, another is nowhere to be seen until it suddenly erupts from directly below. (Photo by Trevor Frost)

Dig the silhouette of the lower teeth coming up at you from underwater as well.

The dinner’s-eye view was captured by explorer Trevor Frost’s camera. While on assignment for National Geographic, Trevor travels with local guides and gets to know the giant crocs that call the sandy riverbanks of northern Australia home. (Get saltwater crocodile facts.)

Perhaps surprisingly, he also gets to know the crocodiles’ individual personalities and tendencies. Some rivers will even have a memorable denizen recognized for decades by multiple generations of local people. In the area Trevor has been working, one skims along the surface for a while, then chomps down at the last second. Another is nowhere to be seen until it suddenly erupts from directly below.

Nice to know that can happen.

Crocodilians aren’t all teeth and terror though. They can be very tender mothers, carting their young around gently in those same jaws, and they’re even known to play, splashing around and giving each other piggyback rides.

Fossil specimens have also shown that a hundred million years ago, there were some crocs big enough to take down large dinosaurs, and others able to walk tall on long limbs and gallop around on land. Their snouts took on shapes more like those of boars, or even ducks, for specialized hunting and feeding (see photos). They don’t seem like such monolithic monsters now, do they?

Still, there’s no getting around those teeth. Careful out there, Trevor.

Saltwater Crocodile Facts

Study Documents How Crocs Play

Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of nationalgeographic.com for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.

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