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Posted by Adam Britton on March 09, 2003 at 02:06:25:
In Reply to: Re: Nile croc. Ssp... posted by reptilefreak19 on March 08, 2003 at 23:21:38:
A lot of this variety is environmental, not genetic. We have dwarf freshwater crocodiles here in Australia, yet the evidence suggests that they are not genetically distinct populations but rather stunted due to lack of food and poor available resources. The Niles in the Sahara (and other places like Chad) are definitely smaller due to environmental influences such as food and temperature, although the question is have they been isolated for long enough to become genetically distinct? Those in Madagascar stand the greatest chance of being distinct from a timescale point of view. I've worked on the Malagasy Niles briefly, and I must admit they didn't strike me as being significantly smaller in terms of size or growth rate - given food / temperatures available I don't see why they should be. The "hiland" Niles are presumably those found in caves in north Madagascar. Those people I've spoken with about them didn't mention anything about their size.
At present, there are no formally accepted subspecies of Nile crocodiles. Several have been described based on localities. The genetic studies will certainly be interesting, although let's not forget that genetic data won't provide a definitive answer - only more data to help clarify the situation.