False Gharial
Temporal range: Late Pleistocene - Present
False Gharial.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Genus: Tomistoma Müller, 1846
Species: T. schlegelii
Binomial name
Tomistoma schlegelii (Müller, 1838)
A.H.A. Duméril & Bibron, 1851

The false gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii), also known as the Malayan gharial and the Sunda gharial, is a freshwater crocodilian in the family Gavialidae. It is native to Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, and Java. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, as the global population is estimated at around 2,500 to 10,000 mature individuals.


The false gharial is a large crocodilian. Males can reportedly grow up to 5 m (16 ft) in length. Three mature males kept in captivity measured 3.6 to 3.9 m (11 ft 10 in to 12 ft 10 in) and weighed 190 to 210 kg (420 to 460 lb), while a female measured 3.27 m (10 ft 9 in) and weighed 93 kg (205 lb). Females have been recorded at lengths of up to 4 m (13 ft 1 in). The false gharial apparently has the largest skull of any extant crocodilian, undoubtedly aided by the great length of the slender snout. Out of the eight longest crocodilian skulls from existing species that could be found in museums around the world, six of these belonged to false gharials. The longest crocodilian skull belonging to an extant species was of this species and measured 84 cm (33 in) in length, with a mandibular length of 104 cm (41 in). Most of the owners of these enormous skulls surprisingly had no confirmed (or even anecdotal) total measurements, but based on the known skull-to-total length ratio for the species, they would measure approximately 5.5 to 6.1 m (18 ft 1 in to 20 ft 0 in) in length.

In the Media

  • Jim Knox’s Wild Zoofari: Remarkable Reptiles & The Bronx Zoo.
  • Wild Florida: Crocodiles. “Briefly”
  • National Geographic: Croc Chronicles
  • St. Augustine Alligator Farm Documentary 2010.
  • Wild Kratts “Kerhonk” & briefly in “A Huge Orange Problem”.
  • PBS National Geographic Special Photo Ark. “Seen on some photographs”
  • Crocodiles The Last Dragon “Brief minor appearance”.


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