Slow and steady


Crocodiles have evolvedat a relatively slow rate-about a quarter of the rate of evolution of birds. But despite this, they have been able to maintain genetic diversity and survive millions of years. This has emerged from a study which compared the genome sequences of crocodiles, birds and turtles. The finding could help us understand their disease resistance, susceptibilities, adaptation to changing environments, and the diversity of captive and wild saltwater crocodile populations. The findings also provide clues to the characteristics of the common ancestors of the species. All extant crocodilian species-the Australian saltwater crocodile, the American alligator and the Indian gharial-were studied in the research. 


Down To Earth, January 2015