Crocodiles, Alligators Trick Prey With Sticks

New study finds they use twigs to lure in birds

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 6, 2013 12:11 PM CST

(Newser) – For the first time, scientists have documented examples of reptiles using tools. Specifically, researchers found that some species of the order Crocodylia (which includes crocs and alligators) use sticks to trick their prey, CNN reports. They collect sticks on their snouts and position themselves in the water so the sticks are on the surface—and they sometimes lie in wait for hours, Science World Daily reports. Then, when a bird perches on a stick or attempts to pick one up for nest-making purposes, the alligator or crocodile lunges.

The lead author says crocodiles have historically been considered "lethargic, stupid, and boring," but this study changes all that. His team confirmed the behavior by watching American alligators in Louisiana for a year; it was first seen in crocodiles in India in 2007. The study also found the crocs timed this type of hunting to the seasons, ramping things up during the March through May nesting season—it's also the first example of reptiles using such seasonal timing in regards to their "lures," the Daily Mail reports. Since these reptiles are closely related to dinosaurs, the new findings could suggest dinosaurs used similar tactics while hunting.

  (Newsy)
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"They are typically seen as lethargic, stupid and boring, but now they are known to exhibit flexible multimodal signaling, advanced parental care, and highly coordinated group hunting tactics."   (Newsy)

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