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By Paula Hammond

Publication by way of Hammond, Paula

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Snout Male and female gharials are sexually dimorphic and differ in size and appearance. Males can be recognized thanks to a characteristic, bulbous growth on the tip of the snout. (c) 2011 Marshall Cavendish. All Rights Reserved. 8ft) Sexual maturity 10 years Breeding season November–January Number of eggs 30–50 Incubation period 83–94 days Breeding interval Yearly Typical diet Young eat insects; adults eat fish Lifespan 40–60 years in the wild Feet These distinctive reptiles propel themselves through water using their webbed feet and long hind legs.

Some species of mudskippers use the same ‘adhesive cups’ to climb around on the mud flats in search of food. Others use these unfused fins like hind legs. The mudskippers’ secret to success, though, are their enlarged pectoral fins. Pectoral fins are located on either side of a fishes’ body and, in aquatic species, they help to generate ‘lift’ as the fish swim. Mudskippers use them in conjunction with their strong caudal tail fins, enabling them to walk, quite effectively, with a hopping, jerky gait known as crutching.

MUDSKIPPER Larger species of mudskippers reproduce on land in purposebuilt, funnel-shaped burrows. These need to be deep enough to stay permanently flooded. Each male energetically guards his burrow, deterring passing, rival males by bobbing aggressively and flashing his dorsal fins. This intruder isn’t impressed, so our resident mudskipper tackles the problem head on, locking mouths with the interloper in a trial of strength. Fortunately, the female is impressed! She follows the victorious male to his burrow, where she lays her eggs in special brooding chambers.

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