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False gharial
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Crocodilia
Family: Gavialidae
Subfamily: Tomistominae
Genus: Tomistoma
Müller, 1846
Species: T. schlegelii
Binomial name
Tomistoma schlegelii
(Müller, 1838)
Range of Tomistoma

The False gharial, also known as the Malayan gharial, false gavial, or Tomistoma (Tomistoma schlegelii) is a fresh-water reptile resembling a crocodile with a very thin and elongated snout, which is thicker than the gharial. The false gharial and the gharial represent the only two surviving species of Gavialidae, a family of reptiles within the order Crocodilia.

Contents

Morphology

Tomistoma petrolica, a fossil false gharial

From a morphological standpoint, it has been originally placed within the family Crocodylidae, but recent immunological studies have shown that it is more closely related to the gharial than was originally thought. It, along with close fossil relatives such as Maroccosuchus, is now classed in the family Gavialidae.[1] The Tomistoma is a very large crocodilian, consistently reaching 5 and possibly even 6 meters in length.[2] [3]

Habitat

The false gharial is native to six river systems in Sumatra and Malaysia, along with the remote river systems of Borneo. It is extinct within all of Indochina where it has not been observed in the wild since the 1970's. Fossils found in Southern China and Taiwan indicate that this and closely related extinct species ranged further north in Asia earlier in the Tertiary.

Reproduction

The false gharial, like all other crocodilian species, lays eggs. It is not known when the species breeds in the wild or when its nesting season is. It is a mound nester. Females usually mature at 2-3 m. Mated females will lay a clutch of 30-60 eggs in a mound of dry leaves or peat. Once the eggs are laid, and construction of the mound is completed, she abandons her nest. Unlike most other crocodilian species, the young receive no parental care and are at risk of being eaten by predators like mongooses, big cats such as tigers and leopards, civets, and wild dogs. The young hatch after 90 days and are left to fend for themselves.

Diet & Behavior

Until recently very little has been known about the diet or behavior of the false gharial within the wild, but thanks to some research on the part of biologists details are slowly being revealed. It has come to the attention of biologists that the false gharial's diet is much more varied than they had originally thought. Until now the false gharial was thought to have a diet similar to it's relative the true Gharial (i.e. only fish and very small vertebrates) but new evidence and occurrences have proven that the false gharial's broader snout has enabled larger individuals to prey on larger vertebrates (including monkeys, deer & fruit bats.) [4]

Conservation

False gharial

The false gharial is threatened with extinction throughout most of its range due to the drainage of its freshwater swamplands and clearance of surrounding rainforests. The species is also hunted frequently for its skin and meat and the eggs are often harvested for human consumption. However, positive steps have been taken by the Malaysian and Indonesian governments to prevent its extinction in the wild. There are reports of some populations rebounding in Indonesia, yet with this slight recovery, mostly irrational fears of attacks have surfaced amongst the local human population. [5]

Skull of a False Gharial

References

  1. ^ "Molecular Systematics of the Order Crocodilia". http://icb.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/29/3/831.  
  2. ^ http://iucncsg.org/ph1/modules/Publications/newsletter/CSG_Newsletter_28_1.pdf
  3. ^ http://tomistoma.org/pa/
  4. ^ http://iucncsg.org/ph1/modules/Publications/newsletter/CSG_Newsletter_28_1.pdf
  5. ^ http://iucncsg.org/ph1/modules/Publications/newsletter/CSG_Newsletter_28_1.pdf

External links

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Simple English

False Gharial
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Crocodilia
Family: Gavialidae
Genus: Tomistoma
Müller, 1846
Species: T. schlegelii
Binomial name
Tomistoma schlegelii
(Müller, 1838)
File:Tomistoma schlegelii
Range of false gharial

The false gharial or Malayan gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii) is a fresh-water reptile. It looks like a crocodile with a very thin and long snout. This snout resembles that of the gharial. That is where the name of the species is from.

From a morphological standpoint, it has long been classed in the family Crocodylidae, but recent immunological studies have shown that it is more closely related to the gharial than was originally thought. It is now classed in the family Gavialidae[1].

The false gharial is native to six river systems in Sumatra and Malaysia. It can also be found in Borneo, Java, Vietnam, Thailand (Not seen since 1970) and possibly Sulawesi. Fossils finds in Southern China indicate that at some point this species occurred there in the past.

[[File:|200px|left|thumb|False gharial]] The False gharial, like all other crocodilian species, lays eggs. It is not known when the species breeds in the wild or when its nesting season is. It is a mound nester. Females usually mature at 2-3 m. Mated females will lay a clutch of 30-60 eggs in a mound of dry leaves or peat. Once the eggs are laid, and construction of the mound is completed, she abandons her nest. Unlike most other crocodilian species, the young receive no parental care and are at risk of being eaten by predators like wild boar, mongooses, big cats such as tigers and leopards, civets, and wild dogs. The young hatch after 90 days and are left to fight for themselves.

The False gharial is threatened with extinction throughout most of its range due to the drainage of its freshwater swamplands and clearance of surrounding rainforests. The species is also hunted frequently for its skin and meat and the eggs are often harvested for human consumption. However, positive steps have been taken by the Malaysian and Indonesian governments to prevent its extinction in the wild.

References

Sources

Other websites

Look up Tomistoma schlegelii in Wikispecies, a directory of species
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