ETYM Latin crocodilus, Greek: cf. French crocodile. Related to Cookatrice.
Large voracious aquatic reptile having a long snout with massive jaws and a body covered with bony plates; of sluggish tropical waters.
British flame-throwing tank of World War II; a modified version of the Churchill. A terrifying weapon, its mere appearance on the battlefield was often sufficient to induce surrender.
The flame gun was mounted in the front face of the tank, alongside the driver, and supplied from an armored trailer holding 400 gallons of inflammable fluid. Propelled by pressurized nitrogen, also carried in the trailer, the jet of flame could reach to about 110 m/120 yds ahead of the tank.
Large aquatic carnivorous reptile of the family Crocodiliae, related to alligators and caymans, but distinguished from them by a more pointed snout and a notch in the upper jaw into which the fourth tooth in the lower jaw fits. Crocodiles can grow up to 6 m/20 ft, and have long, powerful tails that propel them when swimming. They can live up to 100 years.
Crocodiles are fierce hunters, larger specimens attacking animals the size of antelopes or, occasionally, people. In some species, the female lays over 100 hard-shelled eggs in holes or nest mounds of vegetation, which she guards until the eggs hatch. When in the sun, crocodiles cool themselves by opening their mouths wide, which also enables scavenging birds to pick their teeth. They can stay underwater for long periods, but must surface to breathe. The nostrils can be closed underwater. They ballast themselves with stones to adjust their buoyancy. They have remained virtually unchanged for 200 million years. About a dozen species of crocodiles, all of them endangered, are found in tropical parts of Africa, Asia, Australia, and Central America. The largest is the saltwater crocodile Crocodylus porosus, which can grow to 6 m/20 ft or more, and is found in E India, Australia, and the W Pacific. The Nile crocodile C. niloticus is found in Africa and Madagascar. The American crocodile C. acutus, about 4.6 m/15 f.
T long, is found from S Florida to Ecuador. The gharial, or gavial, Gavialis gangeticus is sometimes placed in a family of its own. It is an Indian species which grows to 4.5m/15 ft or more, and has a very long narrow snout specialized for capturing and eating fish.