In the geologic past the family Gavialidae was widespread. Fossils of some 12 species, all from the Cenozoic era (65 million years ago till the present), have been recovered from India, South America, Africa, and Europe. Paleontologists have argued that the Indian gharial separated from the rest of the crocodilians in the Mesozoic era (251-65 million years ago). Recent molecular studies, however, indicate a divergence between Gavialis gangeticus and its nearest relative, the Malayan gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii) as recently as 20 million years ago. Buccal cavity (mouth) morphology of the gharial suggests that the species is able to excrete salt, hence transoceanic dispersal might have aided speciation.
The taxonomy for this species is Indian gharial Gavialis gangeticus Gmelin, 1768, Ganges River.
Other common names include: French: Gavial du Gange; German: Schnabelkrokodil; Spanish: Gavial del Ganges.
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