You are here » home advanced search search results Mecistops cataphractus

Mecistops cataphractus (CUVIER, 1825)

IUCN Red List - Mecistops cataphractus - Critically Endangered, CR

Can you confirm these amateur observations of Mecistops cataphractus?

Add your own observation of
Mecistops cataphractus »

Find more photos by Google images search: Google images

Higher TaxaCrocodylidae (Crocodylia, crocodiles)
Common NamesE: African slender-snouted crocodile
F: faux gavial d’Afrique de l’Ouest, faux gavial ouest-africain, faux gavial, crocodile au long museau, crocodile à nuque cuirassée
G: Panzerkrokodil 
SynonymCrocodilus cataphractus CUVIER 1825: 58
Crocodilus cataphractus — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1836: 126
Mecistops bennettii GRAY 1844: 57
Crocodilus cataphractus — FALCONER 1846: 362
Crocodylus cataphractus — SCHMIDT 1919: 417
Crocodylus cataphractus — KING & BURKE 1989
Mecistops cataphractus — SCHMITZ et al. 2003
Mecistops cataphractus — MCALILEY et al. 2006
Mecistops cataphractus — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 327
Mecistops cf. cataphractus — MARQUES et al. 2018 
DistributionBenin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, S Senegal, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea (Conakry), Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, S Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, Republic of South Sudan (RSS), Sudan (Jumhūriyyat)

Type locality: “Senegal und Ganges” (fide Wermuth & Mertens 1977: 142); restricted to "Senegal-Fluss," by Fuchs, Mertens, and Wermuth 1974  
TypesNeotype: MCZ R-22483 (Fig. 2 in Shirley et al. 2018), skull of an adult individual; Paraneotype. NHMUK 1977.444, a whole, stuffed adult specimen collected in The Gambia presumably by Percy John Rendall in or after 1888. It is of note that this specimen is also the type specimen for the taxon Mecistops bennettii, now synonymous with M. cataphractus. The original holotype, RCSHC (= RCSM) 710, appears to be lost. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: When the geographic origin of a specimen in question is unknown, genetic barcoding (Hebert et al. 2003; Hebert & Gregory 2005) can be easily used to identify M. cataphractus. We described a 921 bp fragment of the mitochondrial COI containing 43 sites that segregate the two Mecistops species (Table 2; Shirley et al. 2014). Mecistops cataphractus is morphologically identifiable by the presence of one or two squamosal bosses (see description below; also visible or tangible in live animals of virtually any size), a broadly curved or almost linear pterygoid-palatine joint, a posteriormost point of the premaxilla level with or anterior the second maxillary tooth, and an anteriormost point of the nasal even with or anterior to the first maxillary tooth. Mecistops cataphractus sub-adults and adults have a heavy, thick-bodied, rough and scaly appearance, and have more postoccipital and accessory nuchal scales that are less orderly and more heavily keeled than M. leptorhynchus. [Shirley et al. 2018: 160] 
CommentMook (1921), Wermuth (1953), and Wermuth and Mertens (1961: 359, 361), Wermuth and Fuchs 1983, incorrectly identified and illustrated a skull of C. cataphractus as belonging to C. intermedius (after King & Burke 1989).

SCHMITZ et al. (2003) found that high genetic differentiation to Osteolaemus (> 7.8%) shows that “C.” cataphractus is not a member of the genus Osteolaemus but probably deserves generic rank. Mecistops Gray 1844 was suggested as available generic name.

Synonymy: partly after WERMUTH & MERTENS 1977: 142. Crocodilus leptorhynchus BENNETT 1835: 129 has been removed from the synonymy of M. cataphractus and resurrected as valid species by Shirley et al. 2018.

Type species: Mecistops bennettii GRAY 1844 is the type species of the genus Mecistops GRAY 1844: 57.

Distribution: see map in Shirley et al. 2018 (Fig. 1).

Ecology. Mecistops cataphractus is one of the least studied crocodylians in the world with only a few peer- reviewed papers published to date on its natural history or ecology (Waitkuwait 1985a, 1985b, 1989; Akani et al. 1998). Shirely et al. 2018 summarize previously published data in conjunction with observations made in the field from 2006–2017. 
EtymologyCuvier (1824) did not provide an etymology for cataphractus. However, we assume it came from the Greek kataphraktos (κατάφρακτος) meaning armored, shielded or completely enclosed. Cuvier (1824) gave this species the French common name “crocodile à nuque cuirassée” (“armor-necked crocodile”). Both the Latin and French are presumably in reference to the extra rows of dorsal scutes joining the nuchal cluster compared to other crocodiles of the genus Crocodylus. 
  • Aoki, R. 1976. On the generic status of Mecitops (Crocodylidae) and the origin of Tomistoma and Gavialis. Bull. Atagawa Inst. 6-7: 23-30
  • Böhme, Wolfgang, Mark-Oliver Rödel, Christian Brede & Philipp Wagner 2011. The reptiles (Testudines, Squamata, Crocodylia) of the forested southeast of the Republic Guinea (Guinée forestière), with a country-wide checklist. Bonn zoological Bulletin 60 (1): 35-61 - get paper here
  • Burger, M.; Branch, W.R. & Channing, A. 2004. Amphibians and Reptiles of Monts Doudou, Gabon: Species Turnover Along an Elevational Gradient. California Academy of Sciences Memoir 28: 145–186
  • Carlino, P. & Pauwels, O.S.G. 2015. An Updated Reptile List of Ivindo National Park, the Herpetofaunal Hotspot of Gabon. Bull. Chicago Herp. Soc. 50(3): 25-39 - get paper here
  • Chirio, L. & Lebreton, M. 2007. Atlas des reptiles du Cameroun. MNHN, IRD, Paris 688 pp.
  • Cuvier, G.L.C.F.D. 1825. Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles de quadrupèdes, où l'on rétablit les caractères du plusieurs espèces d'animaux que les révolutions du globe paroissent avoir détruites. Dufour & d'Ocagne, Paris. ed. 3, 5 vols. [[Parts of this 5 volume edition are cited as appearing from 1821 to 1824; volume 5 appeared in 1825. It consists mostly of articles reprinted from Annales du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris. See also Cuvie - get paper here
  • Duméril, A.M. C. and G. Bibron. 1836. Erpetologie Générale ou Histoire Naturelle Complete des Reptiles. Vol. 3. Libr. Encyclopédique Roret, Paris, 528 pp. - get paper here
  • Eniang, Edem A.; Godfrey C. Akani, Daniele Dendi, John E. Fa & Luca Luiselli 2020. People’s perceptions of crocodiles in Nigeria. The Herpetological Journal 30: 112-116 - get paper here
  • Falconer,H. 1846. Notes upon two crania of crocodiles in the Belfast museum. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (1) 18: 361-364 - get paper here
  • Fuchs, K., R. Mertens, and H. Wermuth. 1974. Zum Status vom Crocodylus cataphractus und Osteolaemus tetraspis. Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde. Serie A (Biologie) 266: 1-8
  • Gossmann, V.; Lötters, S.; Obame, F. & Böhme, W. 2002. Zur Herpetofauna Gabuns. Teil II: Kommentierte Artenliste der gefundenen Reptilien, Bemerkungen zur Artenvielfalt. Herpetofauna 24 (136): 19-33 - get paper here
  • Krysko, K.K.; Enge, K.M.; Donlan, E.M.; Golden, E.Z.; Burgess, J.P. & Larson, K.W. 2009. THE NON-MARINE HERPETOFAUNA OF KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA. Herp. Cons. Biol. 5 (1):132-142 - get paper here
  • Marques, Mariana P.; Luis M. P. Ceríaco , David C. Blackburn , and Aaron M. Bauer 2018. Diversity and Distribution of the Amphibians and Terrestrial Reptiles of Angola -- Atlas of Historical and Bibliographic Records (1840–2017). Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (Ser. 4) 65: 1-501 (Supplement II)
  • McAliley, L. Rex; Ray E. Willis, David A. Ray, P. Scott White, Christopher A. Brochu and Llewellyn D. Densmore III 2006. Are crocodiles really monophyletic?—Evidence for subdivisions from sequence and morphological data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 39 (1): 16-32 - get paper here
  • Meurer, A. 2015. Private Pflege und Nachzucht bedrohter Krokodile. Terraria-Elaphe 2016 (1): 66-74 - get paper here
  • Miles, Lee G.; Stacey L. Lance; Sally R. Isberg; Chris Moran; Travis C. Glenn 2009. Cross-species amplification of microsatellites in crocodilians: assessment and applications for the future. Conservation Genetics. 10:935–954 - get paper here
  • Mook, C.C. 1921. Skull characters of Recent Crocodilia with notes on the affinities of the Recent genera. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 44 (13): 123-268 - get paper here
  • Nickel, H. & Auliya, M. 2004. Krokodile - faszinierende Überlebenskünstler. Draco 5 (20): 4-19 - get paper here
  • Padial, J. M. 2006. COMMENTED DISTRIBUTIONAL LIST OF THE REPTILES OF MAURITANIA (WEST AFRICA). Graellsia, 62(2): 159-178 - get paper here
  • PAN, TAO; JIA-SHUN MIAO, HUA-BIN ZHANG, PENG YAN, PING-SHIN LEE, XIN-YUE JIANG, JIA-HUI OUYANG, YOU-PENG DENG, BAO-WEI ZHANG & XIAO-BING WU. 2021. Near-complete phylogeny of extant Crocodylia (Reptilia) using mitogenome-based data. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 191(4): 1075–1089. - get paper here
  • Pauwels, O. S. G. B. Le Garff, I. Ineich, P. Carlino, I. Melcore, L. Boundenga, C. Vigna, T. Stévart, K. Jeffery, C. Orbell, J.-B. Squarcini, J. P. Vande weghe and L. J. T. White 2016. Miscellanea Herpetologica Gabonica V & VI. Bull. Chicago Herp. Soc. 51: 177 - get paper here
  • Pauwels, O.S.G. & Vande Weghe, J.P. 2008. Les reptiles du Gabon. Smithsonian Institution, Washington: 272 pp. - get paper here
  • Pauwels, O.S.G.; Kamdem Toham, A. & Chimsunchart, C. 2002. Recherches sur l’herpétofaune du Massif du Chaillu, Gabon. Bull. Inst. Roy. Sci. Nat. Belgique (Biologie) 72: 47-57 - get paper here
  • Pauwels, O.S.G.; Victor Mamonekene; Pierre Dumont; William R. Branch; Marius Burger and Sébastien Lavoué 2003. DIET RECORDS FOR CROCODYLUS CATAPHRACTUS (REPTILIA: CROCODYLIDAE) AT LAKE DIVANGUI, OGOOUÉ-MARITIME PROVINCE, SOUTHWESTERN GABON. Hamadryad 27 (2): 200 – 204 - get paper here
  • Piras, Paolo; Luciano Teresi; Angela D. Buscalioni and Jorge Cubo 2009. The shadow of forgotten ancestors differently constrains the fate of Alligatoroidea and Crocodyloidea. Global Ecology and Biogeography (Global Ecol. Biogeogr.) 18: 30–40 - get paper here
  • Ross, Franklin D. 2006. African slender-snout belly is possible cline. Crocodile Specialist Group Newsletter 25(2):18-19
  • Ross, Franklin D. 2006. West African range map omissions. Crocodile Specialist Group Newsletter 25(1):23-24. [
  • Ross, Franklin D. 2006. East Africa range map upgrade. Crocodile Specialist Group Newsletter 25(1):23
  • Schmidt, Karl Patterson 1919. Contributions to the Herpetology of the Belgian Congo based on the Collection of the American Congo Expedition, 1909-1915. Part I: turtles, crocodiles, lizards, and chamaeleons. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 39 (2): 385-624 - get paper here
  • Schmitz, Andreas; Patrick Mausfeld; Evon Hekkala; Tara Shine; Hemmo Nickel; George Amato; Wolfgang Böhme 2003. Molecular evidence for species level divergence in African Nile Crocodiles Crocodylus niloticus (Laurenti, 1786). C. R. Palevol 2: 703–712 - get paper here
  • Sommerlad, R. 2011. Krokodile – Reptiliengiganten in Gefahr. Reptilia (Münster) 16 (87): 16-22 - get paper here
  • Spawls, Steve; Kim Howell, Harald Hinkel, Michele Menegon 2018. Field Guide to East African Reptiles. Bloomsbury, 624 pp. - get paper here
  • Trape, J.F.; Trape, S. & Chirio, L. 2012. Lézards, crocodiles et tortues d'Afrique occidentale et du Sahara. IRD Orstom, 503 pp. - get paper here
  • Trutnau, L. & Sommerlad, R. 2006. Krokodile - Biologie und Haltung. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 646 pp. [review in Reptilia Münster 11 (6): 95-96]
  • Trutnau, L. & Sommerlad, R. 2006. Crocodilians. Their natural history and captive husbandry. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 646 pp. [review in Reptilia GB 48: 8-10]
  • Wermuth, H. 1953. Systematik der Rezenten Krokodile. Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum im Berlin 29 (2): 375-514 - get paper here
  • Wermuth, H., and K. Fuchs. 1983. In: P. Dollinger (ed.), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Identification Manual. Volume 5: Parts and Derivatives II. Secretariat for the Convention, Lausanne, Switzerland.
  • Wermuth, H., and R. Mertens. 1961. Schildkröten, Krokodile, Brückenechsen. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Jena. xxvi + 422 pp.
  • Wermuth,H. & Fuchs,K. 1978. Bestimmen von Krokodilen und ihrer Häute. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart - New York, 100 pages, [ISBN 3-437-30268-X]
  • Willis, Ray E. 2009. Transthyretin gene (TTR) intron 1 elucidates crocodylian phylogenetic relationships. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 53 (3): 1049-1054 - get paper here
External links  
Is it interesting? Share with others:

As link to this species use URL address:

without field 'search_param'. Field 'search_param' is used for browsing search result.

Please submit feedback about this entry to the curator