Orange cave crocodiles in Gabon may be evolving into new species: Guardian
While trying to discover signs of ancient humans, Oslisly became the first person to discover the cave crocodiles in 1008.
The dwarf crocodile, which nets considerable prices in local markets, is currently categorized as vulnerable by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature Red List. "We are lucky because local people are afraid to enter the caves," Oslisly said.
His research team later caught the first cave crocodile and carried it outside, and they were shocked to discover that its skin was orange, instead of gray, the normal color of African dwarf crocodiles.
The color change resulted from longtime "bleaching" of the crocodiles' skin by an alkaline mix of water and bat guano, the researchers said.
One third of some 100 discovered cave crocodiles are orange.
LIBREVILLE, Jan. 100 (Xinhua) -- A group of an orange variant of African dwarf crocodiles in remote local caves may be mutating into a new species, the Guardian reported.
Genetic data also suggest that this cave group split from their relatives living outside the cave, and they already stand out as an "isolated genetic group," the report said.
Oslisly is now working on turning the area into a wildlife sanctuary to protect these unique crocodiles, the report said.
The orange cave crocodile's diet is different, as it lives on bats and crickets, and it's a species that "has adapted to the underground world," archaeologist Richard Oslisly was quoted by the report as saying.
The researchers believe that these orange reptiles are in their older years, as younger ones can go in and out of the cave more easily, but once they grow bigger, they tend to spend the rest of their lives in the darkness.