The gharial is the strangest o’ the crocodilians, and let us face it they are a strange bunch… don’t believe me? Have some round for sherry… I assure you it will be an unforgettable evening.
Right… the gharial… smashing fellow… somehow these cads, along with the rest of the crocodiles, lived through the cataclysm that wiped the best part of the dinosaurs of the face of the earth. Which is smashing news as we still have this delightful chap around. Though we still don’t know how the dinosaurs were bundled off the face of the earth in the first place. Of course the most likely theory is that a huge lump of rock belted into the planet and indeed there is the evidence of a huge strike around Chixculub in Mexico… not to mention a load of asteroid gubbins found all round the planet in a layer at a certain point in time… so for sakes of argument we are sticking with this space rock chappy for now.
This would make a lot of sense as to how we are lucky enough to have the rather smashing gharial with us these days. We do know that after said asteroid hit the planet virtually all plant life would have been put on hold as the Sun was blotted from the sky. This wouldn’t have boded too well for the herbivores either, who not surprisingly kicked the bucket. The predators would have been soon a goner after their vegetarian chums were wiped out. However animals that eat rotten and dead herbivores and predators would have thought it a rather smashing time to be an animal that eats rotten and dead stuff, they’d found it rather difficult to find a bistro to their tastin for a rather long time now… and so they all had a bit of a shindig. Similarly animals that live in streams and rivers wouldn’t have been as badly affected as they are more dependent on bits and bobs being washed downstream than anything else. Which two factors would have suited the crocodiles rather well, as they live in streams and would eat the scabs off a scabby donkey if they were even a trifle peckish.
Well most of them eat any old bobbins; the gharial has had plenty of time to evolve into something much more sophisticated since then. No he doesn’t have an impeccable knowledge of the wines of Bordeaux and he is said to be awful at the Charleston…. he has actually evolved into a remarkably sophisticated fish eater.
Up to six and a half meters long, he is not a wee chap this most aquatic of the crocodilians… what’s more he is really rather suited to the wet stuff. Not surprising then he eats fish, too fast for most crocs, but not for the gharial. That is why he has this huge long thin snout, rammed full of razor sharp teeth. He lies in wait with these toothy swords ajar and when a fishy dishy pops by… snap! The gharial is much faster than his lunking great cousins too, helped by the thin snout which cuts through the water like an oar on its side. If his snappy trap isn’t working he’ll use his flat paddle like tail to slip through the streams, or to whack unsuspecting fish on to the riverbank to scrobble down on.
The male has a ‘pot’ or ‘ghara’ at the end of the snout which grows with maturity. It is used to make hissing noises and apparently is used to blow bubbles which the fillies find quite delightful.
Rather unusual I’m sure you’ll agree.