One semi-useful piece of information. There is a quick way to distinguish crocodiles from alligators (say, if you see them in a movie and someone starts a completely pointless but nonetheless crucially important argument over which that scaly thing was). Alligators' mouths are hinged to open the top of the jaw up. Crocodiles are designed to open the bottom jaw down. So for God's sake, if you're out gator whomping and the target approaches you with the top of the snout still in the water, get back in the boat.

The CROCODILE is so called from its saffron or crocus colour. It is born in the River Nile, an amphibious animal with four legs: generally twenty cubits in length: armed with an awfullness of teeth and claws. Such is the toughness of its hide that however much a blow of massive strokes upon its back, it does not hurt it. It reposes in the water by night, on land by day. It hatches it eggs in the sand. The male and female protect the eggs by turns. Certain fish wich have a serrated crest destroy it, ripping up the tender parts of the belly.

Description of a medieval bestiary
A hilarious short story by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The idea of the story is more or less plagiarized from the Gogol's essay "The Nose".

In The Crocodile, a German bourgeois brings a big crocodile to St. Petersburg to show it for the public and thus get some capital. However, a Russian civil servant goes too close and gets eaten by the crocodile. For everyone's surprise the man is still alive and feeling okay.

His friend tries to figure out how to save him but the German doesn't want his crocodile to be killed. In addition, a man in its stomach makes it even more valuable: everyone wants to see a man-eating crocodile. The poor victim is the first one to admit that an "economical principle" must be consider and consider for good.

The story is very funny satire of emerging capitalism in Russia. Also "progressive ideals" and other "European trends" are shown in ridiculous light. The only disappointment is that FD hadn't invented any decent end for the story and thus the silly man is simply left in the belly of the beast.

Croc"o*dile [L. crocodilus, Gr. : cf. F. crocodile. Cf. Cookatrice.]

1. Zool.

A large reptile of the genus Crocodilus, of several species. They grow to the length of sixteen or eighteen feet, and inhabit the large rivers of Africa, Asia, and America. The eggs, laid in the sand, are hatched by the sun's heat. The best known species is that of the Nile (C. vulgaris, or C. Niloticus). The Florida crocodile (C. Americanus) is much less common than the alligator and has longer jaws. The name is also sometimes applied to the species of other related genera, as the gavial and the alligator.

2. Logic

A fallacious dilemma, mythically supposed to have been first used by a crocodile.

Crocodile bird Zool., an African plover (Pluvianus aegypticus) which alights upon the crocodile and devours its insect parasites, even entering its open mouth (according to reliable writers) in pursuit of files, etc.; -- called also Nile bird. It is the trochilos of ancient writers. -- Crocodile tears, false or affected tears; hypocritical sorrow; -- derived from the fiction of old travelers, that crocodiles shed tears over their prey.

 

© Webster 1913.

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