This gharial dad is the piggyback master

Incredible photo shows this rare crocodilian carrying around 100 babies on its back
gharial "Okay, 97, 98 ... oh, shoot. I lost count again! 1, 2, 3, ... " (Wildlife Photographer of the Year/© Dhiritiman Mukherjee)


The gharial is a crocodilian that lives in India, Nepal, and Pakistan. It is known as the fish-eating crocodile, a name it has earned due to its thin, 110-toothed snout—this fearsome mouth is perfectly designed for snagging slippery fish in its river habitat. But this supreme hunting ability hasn't been enough to save the gharial from all dangers.

Though it is protected, it is listed as a critically endangered animal, with only an estimated 650 adults in the wild. In other words, it needs all of the help—and babies—that it can get.

Did someone say... babies?

Super dad to the rescue!

That is apparently where the gharial in the above photo comes into the picture. Because incredibly, this one reptile is father to around 100 baby gharials. And he's seen here carrying them—as in all of them—on his back!

Normally, crocodilians (including fresh- and saltwater crocs and alligators) carry their young from place to place in their mouths. This is done for both protection and bonding. But gharials have such narrow snouts that they've evolved to carry their young on thier backs instead. Good thing, too. Even the widest mouthed gator in the world would have a hard time carrying around all of these critters in its jaws at once!

The photo is one of dozens being featured in this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Will it be among 2020's winning images? The winners will be announced on October 13. Until then, get back to work, gharial super dad!


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