In Hindu mythology that goddess Ganga rides a creature with the body of a fish and the head of an elephant in the 3rd century AD a Roman author described a crocodile with a horn on the end of its snout could this be the gharial a creature so mysterious that even in the 1970s his peculiar snout was dismissed by.
One eminent scientist as existing only in the.
Imagination of early writers my quest is to find out the truth behind this reptilian unicorn now the reason the girl made it onto my list of weird creatures is because if you lined out all the modern-day crocodiles next to each other it.
Stands out a mile it’s a real weirdo and it’s mainly down to the shape of those jaws there’s long thin salad tones of death but then the male has that peculiar.
Snout the gara what is that Gaara for the Natural History Museum London my second home as a child it was here that I fell in love with the diverse and bizarre world of animals which we share the planet with now my physics are a starting point to breathe life into the dried bones and pickled skins of some of the planet’s weird creatures I start my journey.
At the Natural History Museum we’re.
Solving mysteries of the natural world is what they’re all about we’re just in what occurs on the planet where is it and then why is it where it is I’m here to meet director of science dr.
Richard Lane who leads the 350 other scientists who work here at the.
Natural History Museum in order to separate fact from fiction in defining an animal each species needs to be described from a single original.
Specimen these ones here are what we called type specimens the first time we discover a new species and to ensure that we can keep going back to a reference point we nominate a specimen it’s been like the gold standard if you like right and this museum has got more of these biological gold standards.
Than any other museum in the world so that there is the original animal from which each species.
Was described that’s right some of them are very old this is Victorian and then some of them are really new which of course is the fact that we’re still describing lots of species when you’re working with say extinct creatures like the dinosaurs then is it any different yeah I think it’s different in two ways one is that the information you’ve got it ie in the fossils is.
Very limited there aren’t a lot of fossils then of course you’re only looking at fragments of these animals lives right I guess people often say you know how do you know that you know a brontosaurus actually was that big one was grey well of course the grey is a bit difficult yeah but you can begin did you.
Juice how big it must have been and therefore what its lifestyle was.
Has to be modern animals frustratingly despite being first described in 1789 nobody seems to know with the original type specimen of the girl is so to see the modern animal for myself I’m going to the bustling country of India it’s a kid’s world horn scooters and near-misses I love it India is one of the last places left on earth that the gharial still lives his ancestors were.
Found from the Americas to Africa and from Europe to Asia they are now only found on the Indian subcontinent as recently as 1921 travelers describe the waters of northeast India as so how does it survive here in a country of a billion people and just what.
Is the girls weird nose for before getting into the nitty-gritty of gharial Natural History I wanted to know a bit more about these weird prehistoric looking creatures and where they came from who better to ask than the Natural History Museum’s resident dinosaur expert dr. Angela Milner they are distant cousins of dinosaurs but they’re certainly not dinosaurs what distinguishes dinosaurs.
From all other reptiles the fact that they straightened up their legs got them underneath their bodies so they could move much more easily and they can become bipedal like this one or they could become.
Four-footed crocodiles never managed that yeah because it most crows.
Their legs are out to the side it’s much more energy expensive to move if you’re you’ve got your body slung between your legs instead.
Of underneath and that’s why.
They kind of you know and I’ll do it slim particulars are really bad yes they’re not very good on land at all so the closest living relatives of dinosaurs.
Are actually birds not crocodiles when you’re sitting there having your coffee in the morning watching the black birds and the Blues you’re looking at a.
Little dinosaur on your lawn see that’s cool that’s that’s the way to look at it so the guy isn’t a dinosaur but it.
Was around when they walk the earth to see the animal for myself I’ve traveled to.
Southern India to meet American expatriate romulus Whitaker world authority on crocodiles this is the croc Bank a place he set up in the 70s to stem the decline of India’s crocodiles and this is India’s most common species of crocodile the marsh mugger there were 2,500 individuals here at the croc Bank alone the same.
As the total world figure of gales scattered all over the Indian subcontinent now in order to understand quite how remarkable the gharial is.
First I want to show you what is effectively the all-terrain vehicle.
Of India’s crocodiles by jumping into a pit of 300 of them when we did surveys in the 70s and we found only 200 gharial left and just a few hundred salties these were still in the thousands because you could find.
Them in a little temple tank you could find them in a river even a small stream up in the forest.
And we’ve got close to 2,500 mother here and.
This is the largest captive group.
Of mother in the world right now and we’d love to be able to release them but they’re just so few release sites left and.
People have lost that you know living with crocodiles for a generation or two and now to put them back into people’s rivers and lakes it it almost seems not fair because the people aren’t you know they’re not accustomed they don’t know how to.
Live with him anymore it’s just so frozen it’s not so much just red pools on video recorder this nobody saw it’s amazing I offer here people visitors to the croc Bank and they say are they dead they model that room with a stuffed what a carnies just filled.