The smooth-fronted caiman was first described by the German classicist and naturalist Johann Gottlob Schneider in 1801. The genus name Paleosuchus is derived from the Greek palaios meaning “ancient” and soukhos meaning “crocodile”. This refers to the belief that this crocodile comes from an ancient lineage that diverged from other species of caimans some 30 million years ago. The adult smooth-fronted caiman has cryptic habits and is seldom observed by day because it hides in underwater burrows or may spend much of its time up to 100 m (330 ft) away from water, concealed in dense undergrowth, in hollow logs, or under fallen trees. Males are territorial and females have small home ranges. Adults are semiterrestrial and mainly feed on such animals as porcupines, pacas, snakes, birds, and lizards, consuming few fish or molluscs. Hatchlings feed mainly on insects in their first few weeks, graduating to larger prey as they grow. Juvenile mortality is high, but adult mortality is low, although large carnivores such as the jaguar sometimes prey on them. Patrick Champagne tells us more in this episode of ARCTV.


Produced by Leo Plunkett at Relevant Films (relevantfilms.co.uk) in association with Fauna Forever Volunteer Programs (faunaforever.org) | Music by Tab and Anitek (facebook.com/pages/The-Music-of-Tab-Anitek/151807674852138) | Scripted and presented by Patrick Champagne

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