Croc’s origins pose a conundrum

Cayman’s fostered crocodile has left scientists and environmental experts baffled as to its origins following recent DNA results.

Information from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama following genetic analysis on blood and tissue samples of the animal is at odds with the look of the animal.

‘So we’re in a bit of a conundrum,’ said Director of the Department of Environment Gina Ebanks-Petrie. ‘We’re now trying to figure out what these results mean.’

The nearly eight foot crocodile was captured in Old Man Bay on 30 December following calls from the public to the 911 Emergency Communications Centre reporting a sighting. The reptile has been at Boatswains Beach.

Mrs. Ebanks-Petrie said experts who viewed photos of the croc said it is a freshwater American Crocodile (crocodylus acutus).

But results from the DNA tests suggest that the animal is a saltwater Cuban crocodile (crocodylus rhombifer).

She said results took so long to come back from the Smithsonian Institute because experts there were so confused by the results.

‘Either the crocodile is a weird looking rhombifer, or the animal is some type of hybrid,’ she said.

The DNA analysis was done to help determine the population of origin of the animal in order to send it back to its natural environment.

The situation will have to be looked into further in order to try to understand what the results mean, Mrs. Ebanks-Petrie added.

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