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Indian crocodiles seen saving dog from feral pack attack, but scientists divided over what it means


Scientists in India observed mugger crocodiles (Crocodylus palustris) interacting with a dog that had been chased into the river by a feral pack.  (Image credit: Utkarsha Chavan)

Scientists in India have observed mugger crocodiles engaging in some strange behaviors, including hunting in packs, using sticks as bait to lure herons and egrets within striking range, showing interest in flower garlands floating in the river and even saving a feral dog that had been chased by other dogs. 

The new study, published Aug. 26 in the Journal of Threatened Taxa, suggests that mugger crocodiles (Crocodylus palustris) inhabiting the Savitri River in Maharashtra, India are more cognitively advanced than scientists currently believe. 

As tantalizing as these observations are, though, an expert Live Science contacted is skeptical, noting that while the hunting behaviors have previously been reported — anecdotally — the latter two claims are almost certainly anthropomorphic conjecture. 

The authors said the crocodiles appear to be attracted to marigolds. (Image credit: Utkarsha Chavan/Chavan & Borkar 2023)

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