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Crocodylus acutus (CUVIER, 1807)

IUCN Red List - Crocodylus acutus - Vulnerable, VU

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Higher TaxaCrocodylidae (Crocodylia, crocodiles)
Common NamesE: American crocodile
G: Spitzkrokodil
S: Cocodrilo Amarillo 
SynonymCrocodilus acutus CUVIER 1807: 55
Lacerta Hispaniolica SHAW & NODDER 1806: plate 722
Crocodilus acutus — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1836: 119
Crocodilus pacificus — DUMÉRIL & BOCOURT 1870 (fide GÜNTHER 1885: 20)
Crocodilus floridanus HORNADAY 1875
Crocodilus americanus var. acutus — GÜNTHER 1885: 20
Crocodilus americanus — BARBOUR 1910: 301
Crocodylus acutus — GRANT 1940: 129
Crocodylus acutus acutus — MERTENS 1952: 37
Crocodylus acutus — KING & BURKE 1989
Crocodylus acutus — SCHWARTZ & HENDERSON 1991: 667
Crocodylus acutus — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 38
Crocodylus acutus — LEE 2000: 132
Crocodylus acutus — WILSON 2011
Crocodylus acutus — MCCRANIE 2018 
DistributionUSA (S Florida), Mexico (Oaxaca, Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Chiapas, Jalisco, Guerrero, Sinaloa, Nayarit, Sonora)
Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala,
Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama,
Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Hispaniola, Jamaica,
Margarita, Martinique, Trinidad,
Colombia (incl. Valle del Cauca), Peru, Venezuela

Type locality: "La grande ile de Saint-Domingue, Antilles, Amerique" (=Hispaniola; most probably the French portion which today is Haiti); restricted to "Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata," by Smith and Taylor (1950: 364); and further restricted to "L'Etang, Saumatre, Haiti," by Schmidt (1953: 111).  
Reproductionoviparous. Temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD); facultative parthenogenesis (Booth et al. 2023) 
TypesSyntypes: unlocated, was MNHN, but not located in MNHN-RA collections (I. Ineich, pers. comm., March 2019)
Syntype: USNM 211273 [Crocodylus floridanus] 
DiagnosisDESCRIPTION: Suggested adult maximum size 700 cm, average adult 300-400 cm; hatchlings 25-30 cm; 1 transverse row of 4--6 enlarged postoccipitals, medially divided equally or in contact with each other; 0-6 (strongly modally 4) enlarged nuchals in square, flanked by 1 scale on each side, forming a cluster widely separated from dorsals by expanse of smooth skin and well separated from postoccipitals; dorsals 16-17 transverse rows of 1--6 scales/row; 16-17 double-crest caudal whorls; 15-16 single-crest caudal whorls; ventrals in 26-32 transverse rows; fourth mandibular teeth received into external notches on sides of upper jaw; mandibular symphysis extends to level of fourth or fifth teeth; dental formula 5+13-14/15. Adults gray-green, dark olive-green, or gray-brown above with dark crossbands on back and tail, obscure in old adults; venter white or yellow-white, lateral ventral scales spotted with gray or black; juveniles like adults but with gray (rather than green) base; Cuban individuals dark olive-green with yellowish flecks above (appear nearly black) (Schwartz & Henderson 1991: 667). 
CommentNomenclature: In revising earlier works on crocodiles, Cuvier (1807) showed that plate 106, fig. 1, of Seba (1734) was too inaccurate to be identified. Because its description was based solely on Seba's plate 106, fig. 1, Stejneger (1933: 118) stated that Crocodylus americanus Laurenti 1768 was unavailable. Stejneger and Barbour (1917: 41); Stejneger (1917); Mook and Mook (1940) and most later authors used acutus Cuvier 1807 in combination with Laurenti's spelling of Crocodylus. Smith and Smith (1977) reviewed the nomenclature and fixed Crocodylus americanus Laurenti 1768: 54, as a junior synonym of Lacerta crocodilus Linnaeus 1758 (after Burke & King 1989).

Similar species: C. moreletii

Phylogeny: This and other New World crocodiles are closely related to African C. niloticus, indicating a recent (Miocine or Pliocene) cross-Atlantic dispersal (MEREDITH et al. 2011).

Distribution: Reports of C. acutus from Paraguay are probably erroneous since there are no other records south of the Orinoco River delta in Venezula (SCOTT et al. 1990).

Hybridization: Akkaraju et al (1996) and Weaver et al. (2008) present evidence for hybridization of C. acutus with C. rhombifer. Rodriguez (2007) presented genetic evidence for hybridization between Crocodylus acutus and C. moreletii. 
EtymologyNamed after Latin “acuere” = sharp, or “acutus” = sharpened, pointed, or “acumen” = tip, or “acus” = needle. 
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