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The Crocodile’s Jaw

The Crocodile’s Jaw

THE crocodile has the most powerful bite ever measured for animals that are now living. For example, the saltwater crocodile, found near Australia, can bite nearly three times as hard as a lion or a tiger. Yet, the crocodile’s jaw is also incredibly sensitive to touch​—even more sensitive than the human fingertip. How can that be, considering the crocodile’s armored skin?

The crocodile’s jaw is covered with thousands of sense organs. After studying them, researcher Duncan Leitch noted: “Each of the nerve endings comes out of a hole in the skull.” This arrangement protects the nerve fibers in the jaw while providing sensitivity that in some spots is greater than instruments could measure. As a result, the crocodile can distinguish between food and debris in its mouth. That is also how a mother crocodile can carry her hatchlings in her mouth without accidentally crushing them. The crocodile’s jaw is a surprising combination of power and sensitivity.

What do you think? Did the crocodile’s jaw come about by evolution? Or was it designed?