New research reveals crocodiles use tools to hunt birds

Hunting techniques include using a stick as a false perch

As if crocodiles weren't terrifying enough, a new study reveals the deadly reptiles may be smarter than we think.

New research published in the scientific journal Ethology, Ecology and Evolution shows that crocodilian species employ previously undocumented cunning hunting techniques — one of which is using sticks as "lures." (Via National Geographic)

Yes, that's right. The study explains some crocodiles and American alligators " ... gather sticks on their snouts and then lie still in the water. When a bird seeks a perch or tries to grab one of those sticks to make a nest, the croc lunges quickly. It usually ends badly for the bird." (Via CNN)

Science World Report explains the research has been several years in the making and marks the first documented use of tools by a reptile. Vladimir Dinets, a scientist involved in the study, says he first spotted the behavior in 2007.

"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."

​Dinets also said the research is particularly interesting because crocs are from a sister taxon of dinosaurs and prehistoric flying reptiles.

That means the crocs' family tree is closely related to dinosaurs, which could indicate that dinosaurs also may have been more clever than we previously gave them credit for, and may have used tools to lure prey themselves. (Via Animal Planet)

So if 15 foot-long crocs use sticks to catch birds, what did the 40 foot-long Tyrannosaurus Rex use to catch pterodactyls? Logs? I guess we can only imagine for now. 

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