Physical characteristics

Crocodiles range from the small (6.2 ft [1.9 m] total length) West African dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis) to the huge (20 ft [6.1 m] total length) saltwater crocodile (Crocody lus porosus). Crocodiles are characterized by smaller, weak front limbs and strong hind limbs with webbed toes. Dorsal scales backed by osteoderms form heavy armor plating on neck and back. All crocodiles are elongate with snout-vent length almost equal to tail length. The tail is strongly muscled and flattened for swimming. Other adaptations for aquatic life include nostril and ear valves, a nictitating membrane to cover the eye, and a glottal valve in the throat. Crocodiles have effective visual, auditory, and olfactory systems. Crocodile teeth are replaced throughout life. Crocodiles can live for 70-80 years.

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