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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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crocodile an animal which needs no description, exists in various species of which the most notable are Crocodylus niloticus, the Nile crocodile, and C. acutus, the American crocodile. The former, which is the larger (maximum length 5 m/16'), had an extensive range in the past (as far north as Palestine for example) but is now found only in the northern part of the Nile and its delta. The latter is found in swamps in Florida.

Asia also has a freshwater crocodile, C. palustris, considered to be sacred in many of the regions where it is found. There is also a marine species C. porosus, perhaps the largest of all crocodiles and the only one with a reputation for attacking human beings. A large specimen killed in 1970 in Irian Java, New Guinea was thought to have taken 55 human victims while it was alive. This crocodile often swims many miles out to sea, will travel up rivers so far as the water remains salty, and is able to run swiftly on land. This species is now being ‘farmed’ in some places within its range, e.g. Papua New Guinea. Its range extends from the north of Australia to the south of India and across to the Philippines.