Crocs, Fruits and Seeds

Perhaps it’s not all that widely appreciated that several members of Crocodylia  (that’s the taxonomic order, not a thrash metal band) are quite partial to a bit of fruit now and again. In fact, reveals a new paper in the Journal of Zoology  “ … there is little doubt that on occasion, fruit is deliberately consumed, often in large quantities.“ Here’s video confirmation:

Leading to the question, has the study of Saurochory (seed dispersal by reptiles) overlooked the possible implications of Frugivory (eating fruit) by Crocodilians (crocodiles, alligators &etc.)?

The possibilities are discussed in : ‘Frugivory and seed dispersal by crocodilians: an overlooked form of saurochory?’ by authors Platt, Elsey, Liu, Rainwater, Nifong, Rosenblatt, Heithaus and Mazzotti (Journal of Zoology, Volume 291, Issue 2, October 2013 , pp. 87–99)

“Saurochory (seed dispersal by reptiles) among crocodilians has largely been ignored, probably because these reptiles are generally assumed to be obligate carnivores incapable of digesting vegetable proteins and polysaccharides.

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Although there is no evidence for a crocodilian-specific dispersal syndrome similar to that described for other reptiles, our review strongly suggests that crocodilians function as effective agents of seed dispersal. Crocodilian saurochory offers a fertile ground for future research.”

Note: Dr. Rainwater, of the Medical University of South Carolina, has also performed a ‘Population Assessment of American Crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) in Turneffe Atoll, Belize, 2008′