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West African crocodile
Temporal range: Late Pleistocene - Present
250px-Bazoule sacred crocodiles MS 6709cropped.JPG
Specimen in Bazoulé, Burkina Faso
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Crocodilia
Family: Crocodylidae
Genus: Crocodylus
Binomial name
Crocodylus suchus
Geoffrey, 1809
Synonyms
  • C. niloticus suchus

The West African crocodile or desert crocodile (Crocodylus suchus) is a species of crocodile related to – and often confused with – the Nile crocodile (C. niloticus).

Taxonomy

Crocodylus suchus

Skull of a mummified specimen of C. suchus, 1870s

The species was named by Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire in 1807, who discovered differences between the skulls of a mummified crocodile and those of C. niloticus. This new species was, however, for a long time afterwards regarded as a synonym of the Nile crocodile, but a 2011 study showed that all sampled mummified crocodiles from Egypt belonged to a different species than C. niloticus, and thereby resurrected the name C. suchus.

Distribution

The West African crocodile inhabits Mauritania, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Gabon, Togo, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of Congo and Uganda (Uganda has both Nile and West African crocodiles). One C. suchus specimen also exists at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, and pairs live in Copenhagen Zoo and Dublin Zoo.

West African crocodiles in Mauritania have adapted to their arid environment by staying in caves or burrows in a state of æstivation during the driest periods. When it rains, the reptiles gather at gueltas.

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