When three crocodiles swam up a dog in the water, it seemed like a disaster was imminent — but what happened instead surprised everyone.
According to the Journal of Threatened Taxa, a young stray dog was chased out of his territory by a pack of feral dogs, and ended up in the shallow waters of the Savitri River in India.
Footage showed the dog standing oblivious in the water as a potential threat grew near: three crocodiles swam towards him. Watching the scene unfold, it would be natural to assume the dog was about to be the crocs’ dinner.
However, what happened next stumped researchers: instead of chowing down on the dog, the crocodiles helped him instead, pushing him towards dry land.
The moment surprised researchers. “Given that the mugger was well within the striking range and could have easily devoured the dog, yet none of them attacked and instead chose to nudge it towards the bank, implies that the hunger drive was absent,” the entry in the Journal reads. “We propose this to be a case of sentient behaviour of the Mugger resulting in cross species ‘emotional empathy.”
“The curious case of a dog ‘rescued’ by the group of crocodiles reported here seems more on lines of empathy than altruistic behaviour.”
The researchers note that there has been little research done on the mental faculties of reptiles, so a lot of their behavior is still a mystery. But their findings suggest that crocodiles could be more emotionally intelligent than previously thought.
“As far as animal cognition is concerned… reptiles have been underestimated and research in reptilian cognition hasn’t progressed much due to this bias,” the report’s abstract reads. “Though crocodiles are generally stereotyped as lethargic and lacking social interactions except for territoriality, parental care and prey ambush, they demonstrate discrete behavioural repertoire in a variety of situations suggestive of refined cognition.”
These are some kind crocodiles! It’s amazing how nature can surprise us as animals behave in inspiring, unexpected ways.
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