Monday, January 31, 2011

Australia's "monster" crocodile

This photograph has been doing the rounds lately. It purportedly shows a giant 6.5 metre (22 foot) saltwater crocodile that was shot in... well, there's the rub. There seems to be some disagreement about whether it was shot in Queensland, or the Northern Territory, and therefore who owns Australia's largest (dead) crocodile. This disagreement has spilled over into the international media, all of whom love a good story about giant crocodiles.

There's only one problem with all this. That crocodile is certainly not 6.5 metres long. Not even close. If you ask me, it's probably a little over 5 metres long. How do I know this? Well, all the clues are in the photo. First of all, that truck (a Toyota Landcruiser FJ40 series station wagon) is roughly the same length as the crocodile, give or take. It's hard to tell because the back of the crocodile's tail isn't in the shot. So how long is that truck? It's around 4.7 metres. Secondly, the photograph uses all the classic perspective tricks to fool the eye into emphasising the size of the crocodile - low to the ground, wide-angle lens, small child in the foreground, truck in the background (the distance could be several metres, further exaggerating the size of the crocodile). And if that wasn't enough, the crocodile is clearly starting to bloat from decomposition, making it look even larger. So if you add all this up, look at the size of the truck and where the crocodile is positioned in relation to it, considering how much of its tail is missing, it can't be much more than 5 metres long. That's around 17 feet at best. That's certainly a very impressive, very large crocodile, but it's nowhere near the size they're claiming, and it's certainly not the largest croc ever found in Australia.

Whoever wants this crocodile can have it. Not only is it not particularly noteworthy, it's probably a bit on the nose by now judging from the age of the photograph.

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